Mayor Dave and his city council marched in solidarity with its union masters straight into a massive budget hole. Now, Mayor Cieslewicz is backtracking furiously like those cartoon characters who suddenly find themselves suspended in mid-air.
Either AFSCME Local 60 came to the mayor or he to the union, it don't matter. Mayor Dave is now trying to undo what he and a complaisant Common Council rushed to do, arm in arm with the union poobahs, on February 17: reverse, at least partially, the sweetheart deals they enacted in a special, emergency, can't wait, hurry up! meeting on a Thursday blocks away from its normal meeting place.
As The Capital Times reported, upon passing the contracts:
the crowded room of city employees, fresh off marching with Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and most of the City Council from the City-County Building to the Overture Center, burst into applause and a standing ovation for the council. Before the march, the crowd of more than 200 people also sang "Happy Birthday" to Cieslewicz.
Now the Mayor and his blind allies on the Common Council are in a royal panic. At this moment they find themselves in a budget hole of between $20 million to $30 million for 2012. And the shared revenue state aid cuts from Governor Walker account for only $8-9 million of that.
"And since Governor Walker has severely limited our ability to raise taxes to cover the deficit, we may be forced to make drastic cuts in services and staff," Mayor Cieslewicz wrote this noon in >an e-mail to the Common Council.
So why oh why did our elected city leaders rush to give pay increases of 3 and 2 percent to its 3,500 employees? Why did they rush to enact three-year contracts that called for NO pension or health insurance contributions from those employees?
Even if amended the new contracts would give raises of 2 percent, 2 percent, and 3 percent for each of the next three years (instead of 3 and 2 percent) with only no givebacks on health insurance the first two years and no pension contributions this year.
Doesn't this suggest a transparent attempt to ingratiate themselves with the politically powerful unions? And of course, the city will continue to be the bagman for union dues collection.
Sure enough, the Mayor got his payoff last Friday: the union's endorsement.
This proves once and for all that the union sits on both sides of the bargaining table. It negotiates with itself.
When will the Wisconsin State Journal take notice? I think soon.
On April 5, write in Thuy Pham-Remmele for Mayor!
Governor can't help those who won't help themselves
Gov. Walker has been very clear about the $3.6 Billion fiscal hole the State of Wisconsin is facing. Early on, I asked Madison city comptroller Dean Brasser and each and every alder what he thought the hit would be. Never did get a firm answer. But Council President Mark Clear e-mailed me that "labor peace is not cheap."
Now, City of Madison taxpayers could have save $7.8 million thanks to Governor Scott Walker. Dane County taxpayers will save $7.2 million. Madison school district taxpayers will save $10.8 million. And that is only in pension savings, by requiring future annuitants to pay half their retirement contributions going forward. Don't believe me, believe the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Now that we've got the Fugitive 14 back, someone send out an Amber Alert for Eileen Bruskewitz. Last we heard, she was running for Dane County executive. Then she, like, disappeared. Her opponent, front runner Joe Parisi, a bonafide liberal Democrat, is all over the screen squiring publicity-tapeworm Jesse Jackson around the muddy Capitol grounds, shouting at Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, and providing the Amen chorus for the likes of Michael Moore, John Nichols, Marty Biel, and John Matthews.
So Parisi has the unionists locked up and ready to vote. Eileen Bruskewitz is not going to win those people. But at least she could stand up and be counted as siding with the taxpayers.
She needs to show the same courage she did in opposing the runaway regional transit authority. She can win in a losing effort or she can lose in a losing effort. That is her choice.
The M&I boycotters
Former Ald. Dorothy Borchardt notes that the firefighters union is among those threatening M&I Bank. Makes me think that all political campaign contributions ought to be as private and anonymous as the voting booth, given the retribution and threats. Dorothy comments:
The firefighters union local 311 led the charge at M&I Bank. [The union] is under the leadership of Joe Conway, thesameJoe Conwaythat fought firefightershaving to takerandom drug testing after the charges against 12 firefighter involved in theJocko'sBar undercover investigation.The firefighters union supported Mayor Sue Bauman and shemade sureJoe and his union didn't have to have random drug testing. It cost the Madison taxpayers more then$1 million to settle.
Precedence for compelling legislators
September 25, 1787, Benjamin Franklin was the "president" of the state of Pennsylvania. Up in New York City, the Continental Congress
Constitutional Convention, chaired by George Washington, had completed its work a week earlier had agreed to "transmit" the Constitution to the states for submission to ratifying conventions. Franklin ordered 2,000 copies of the document to be printed in English and distributed to the people; another 1,000 copies were printed in German.
Many in Pennsylvania's unicameral legislature wanted to be the first to ratify the new Constitution. Its task was to set the date for a convention of the people to ratify. Former UW-Madison history professor Pauline Maier relates the story in her wonderful book, Ratification -- The People Debate the Constitution, 1987-1788 (Simon & Schuster, 2010).
After a full debate the morning of September 28, only 44 Assembly members returned in the afternoon, another 19 stayed away, leaving the legislature two members short of the two-thirds quorum.
That technique -- postponing a vote by not showing up -- had been used in the past by both sides in Pennsylvania politics. Nonetheless, the Republican majority was quick to condemn the absentees for shirking 'the duty they owed their country.' The assembly sent its sergeant at arms to collect the missing delegates ... but they refused to return to the State house. The assembly could only adjourn until the next day, then try again to persuade the missing members to come back.
One truant member was actually chased through the street but disappeared down a side alley. The next day, September 29, was a Saturday.
Then, the assembly records say, two members who had been lingering at Boyd's boarding house, James M'Calmont and Jacob Miley, suddenly appeared in the room where the legislature met. They had been forcibly seized and dragged to the State House by the sergeant at arms and three men who supported a quick ratification of the Constitution.
The additional two made a quorum. M'Calmont offered to pay the 5 shilling fine for truancy. One member argued that the fugitives could not be "detained as in prison."
When M'Calmont tried to flee, spectators in the gallery called out "stop him!" and a crowd at the door forced him to return to his place.
... Only the "outrageous proceeding" against assemblymen M'Calmont and Miley, who were violently seized from their lodgings by a number of Philadelphians, "their clothes torn, and after much abuse and insult ... forcibly dragged through the streets to the State house" and detained there "by force, and in the presence of the majority," kept the minority's plan from being successful. The dissenters nonetheless took credit for having the election held later than originally proposed."
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