Equipped with a fresh set of vacuum tubes, my Philco television set beamed into the comfort of the Stately Manor the images and sounds of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, meeting in far-away downtown Madison last evening. Truly, technology is a wonder.
It is fortunate that my trusty Philco, although long past warranty, withstood the verbal and physical assault to which it was subjected by the Squire of the Stately Manor. Fortunate, too, that the mechanism -- state of the art in 1956 -- is incapable of two-way communication.
For the Squire was greatly displeased by the proceedings he witnessed on his 14-inch screen. He made such feelings known by vocalizing them at high volume. He also exhausted his repertoire of Anglo-Saxon imprecations, as was enunciated by Bertie in the King's Speech movie, but without the st- st- stammering.
The Squire might have gone all "Elvis" on the sturdy Philco had not Ruben Mamoulian hidden the keys to the armory.
There, right before his eyes, in living black and white, the Squire witnessed his elected Dane County Board standing in solidarity with its unionized employees rather than the taxpayer. He could see the shadowy figures on the screen in the act of locking the citizenry into a contract guaranteeing four years of safety from the reforms of the Republican state government. Perhaps, by 2016, Ben Manski will be governor.
"A four-year agreement is a good thing," pronounced nominal conservative Supv. Cynda Solberg. "We've saved ourselves a lot of hassle and avoided making people work without a contract."
Yes, let's avoid hassle at all costs. Must enact contracts soonest. Nothing more important. No contract, no can workie. Um-Gawa!
Supervisors gave themselves a group hug over the $1 million in health care savings achieved annually by the contract. However, and the WI State Journal did not report this, the total cost of the contract, due to a 3 percent increase to 1,300 employees, amounts to a $4.7 million upper, annually.
I also got another question answered. Either side, management or labor, can unilaterally open the contract in each of its remaining years. And yes, the county will continue to pay the entirety of a generous defined benefits pension plan. But it's for four years!
A few supervisors, some of whom the Squire has succored, endeavored to ask questions of the county's minister of paying people. But the questioners seemed as off message as their questions seemed confused.
A separate but equal branch of government
No one asked if state shared revenues were expected to increase to offset the $4.7 million increased cost of the employee contract. No one ventured to say which tax would be raised to make up the difference, or which service cut, or how many employees laid off.
In the end, the contracts, partially unveiled only two days prior, were approved on a voice vote. No one seemed cognizant that the Boehner regime in Washington now requires a legislative matter to sit at least three days in the sunlight before a vote, such was the disgust over the previous Congress.
Not one Dane County supervisor -- for that is all that is required -- thought to ask for a roll call vote. Not one supervisor sought to delay this momentous question until the next meeting, only two weeks hence. Are two weeks in exchange for four years so unreasonable?
As Tuesday's letter transmitting the bare outlines of the contract admitted, "The negotiation was completed quickly." Even more quickly was it ratified.
Even more swiftly did the Squire pour himself another tumbler of fine bourbon and rattle off a rapid-fire litany of imprecations that would have made the late George Carlin blush.
How progressives think (a continuing series)
"Inauguration Day dawned dark and cold ... and our born-again Christian governor announced at his prayer breakfast that the Creator, not government, gives us our freedoms." -- Ruth Conniff, Isthmus, 1-7-2011.
Ms. Conniff curdles her grim Hobbesian missive with great gobs of Progressive disdain for that opium of the masses, religion. No strain of the ancient superstition known as Christianity is as damnable as the "born-again," on display at something called a "prayer breakfast." We can assume that the political editor of the Progressive stayed safely away from such corrupting scene, no matter how organic the O.J.
What disturbs Ms. Conniff most is that a primitive religionist had acceded to the state's highest office by denying the central Progressive tenet that Government is the source of all goodness.
Big Government giveth and Big Government taketh away. If you are free it is because government permits you to be free. Be suitably grateful. Or else.
Never mind that in his heresy, Scott Walker sits at the same table as one Thomas Jefferson, that great separator of church and state. Wasn't it Jefferson who wrote, we forget where: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. ..."
Bad guys are after our good stuff
Three home break-ins in the past week here on the Southwest side over the New Year's holiday.
- A home alarm and the family dog scared off a would-be burglar early New Year's Day in the 5800 block of Dorsett Drive on the west side.
- In the 5900 block of Hammersley Road a family returned home to find $3,500 in goods stolen.
- In the 1800 block of Frisch Road, someone took a TV valued at $800.
Mayoral candidates, county exec candidates, we turn our lonely eyes to you.