The incessant beating of tom toms in the state capitol has ended for the moment. Curators are assessing the damages to the marble. Peg Lautenschlager has declared victory. Police still execute an open field tackle on an obscure legislator from a place I didn't know existed.
But the Fugitive 14 Democratic state senators remain at large, one step ahead of the stalwart tea partiers, Illinois division. Gov. Walker is issuing layoff notices today -- always the fallback position of unions who would rather see their members unemployed than give an inch.
Those layoffs will fall disproportionately on metro Madison. The Fugitive 14 Democrats will, of course, blame the governor. But how else is the state's chief executive supposed to realize savings if he cannot enact the modest pension and health insurance uppers he proposes?
In times of great discord as we have experienced here in Wisconsin, I ask what would Clark Griswold have done in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? He would have mobilized his big-hearted, small-brained Cousin Eddie.
Sen. Scott Fitzgerald: Hey. If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Fred Risser, the state senator from Madison, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber down there in Chicagoland with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here ... with a big ribbon on his head!
Cousin Eddie: Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas, Scott. [to Senator Risser] You about ready to do some kissing?
The remaining 19 state senators, all Republicans, on Thursday declared the Fugitive 14 in contempt of the Senate and ordered them to be compelled to attend, as provided by Article IV, Section 7, of the state Constitution. This is not an arrest, which is a detainment pending criminal charges. Arrests are prohibited.
Wouldn't it help if we issued an Amber Alert? Can we get those electronic billboards on the Beltline to flash images of Erpenbach, Miller, and Risser under the headline: "Have you seen these men?"
Shouldn't there be some kind of bounty for bagging a senator and bringing him in. Alive, of course. Just think of the happy homecoming in the State Capitol.
Sen. Risser: You surprised to see us, Governor?
Governor Walker: Surprised Fred?... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now.
City employees, stop work! Listen to Jesse!
Could there be a more incestuous relationship between Madison's public employee unions and our elected officials? Truly, the union is sitting on both sides of the bargaining table. Knowing that major reductions in state aid were coming -- that was a certainty -- the Mayor could not act fast enough to throw 2 and 3 percent pay raises at their unionized workforce. I blogged about that Thursday.
Now, oh joyous occasion, The Rev, Jesse Jackson, is back in town and aren't we in city government delighted! Be sure to take off some work time to hear this rhyming simon orate on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden city employees! I have retained the boldfacing of Mayor Dave's chief of staff in her e-mail memo to all city employees.
From: Piraino, Janet
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 5:49 PM
To: All Email Users
Subject: Speech by the Reverend Jesse Jackson
I'm excited to announce the Reverend Jesse Jackson will be speaking in front of the City County Building tomorrow (Friday) at 3 p.m. He intends to deliver a message to all City employees, which would last between 15 and 30 minutes. We are excited about this opportunity but want to remind employees who wish to attend that this should be done on their own time. However, supervisors are encouraged to be flexible with employee requests to attend this speech. We hope to see many of you there tomorrow!
Chief of Staff
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz
The great Peggy Noonan says this in her Wall Street Journal column:
When union leaders negotiate with a politician, they're negotiating with someone they can hire and fire. Public unions have numbers and money, and politicians need both. And politicians fear strikes because the public hates them. When governors negotiate with unions, it's not collective bargaining, it's more like collusion. Someone said last week the taxpayers aren't at the table. The taxpayers aren't even in the room.
Mayor Dave's briefing on the governor's budget and its effect on city government was 3:30 this afternoon live on Charter digital channel 994 and AT&T U-Verse channel 99 and on line at www.madisoncitychannel.com.
Stay the course
Yes, Gov. Scott Walker is upside down for the moment. Rasmussen, the polling firm that liberals love to loathe, shows that 43% approve, 57% don't. But the Wall Street Journal advises to stay the course.
The model here is John Engler, the former Michigan Governor whose approval rating slipped as low as 18% in his first term in the early 1990s as he cut taxes, slashed the state payroll and ended cash welfare for the able-bodied. But he went on to roll up landslide re-election margins in 1994. Mr. Engler knew that real reforms pay a double dividend: credit for promises kept and then credit for providing tangible benefits to middle-income voters, such as lower tax bills.
This is the money line, and I agree with it fully (you were worried otherwise?) "Traumatic as it can be trying to reform government, it is lethal to try and fail."