Well, isn't that special!
Madison schools are closed today, an unseasonably warm day, because union boss John Matthews decided to close them.
Instead, the teachers will be politicking at the State Capitol today, and not just from the Madison school district. They will be reminding their Democrat hirelings who rules, and it ain't the people. They will remind the rest of Wisconsin just why it was that Wisconsin went from bluest blue to reddest red this past November, why they elected Scott Walker as governor and solid majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
Where were the tea partiers Tuesday? Many of those who testified before the Joint Finance Committee identified themselves as tea partiers. But, let's face it, buses at four out-state origination points were announced a bare 18 hours before departure. Uh, boss, I'm taking tomorrow off to go picket at the state capitol.
Right. Just try that at your private sector job. Am Fam or General Casualty or Alliant Energy is not going to turn out thousands of workers to serve as anti-protest fodder. The barrista at the coffee shop, the body shop guys with paying customers backed up in the waiting room, the nursing shift at St. Mary's. They've got jobs to hold onto, customers to serve, responsibilities.
Stopping 'whatever this dude is doing'
I happened to be standing outside the East Wing of the State Capitol at 11:45 Tuesday morning when up East Washington Avenue trouped about 700 kids -- half the student body at East High School had walked out and marched the almost three miles. It was truly a sight to behold. The young people were in high spirits. For many, it was their first taste of political involvement. Young people like to stick it to the man, whomever he may be. Oh, to be young again!
The MacIver Institute shot some footage, wherein one young man, no doubt a future Isthmus state rep, explained, "We're trying to stop whatever it is that this dude is doing."
No, wait, he's the editorial page editor at The Capital Times.
The East High contingent, by the way, was liberally sprinkled with supportive teachers and parents.
At the other end of the Capitol, a crowd spilled all the way down from the West Wing out onto Carroll Street and down into State Street. I caught a UW-La Crosse professor promise that his colleagues would vote to join the ranks of their unionized brothers and sisters next week, "come what may."
That's a load off my mind.
Meanwhile, testimony before the Joint Finance Committee dragged on to 4 a.m., thanks greatly to Sen. Lena Taylor, who insisted on interjecting her political points instead of allowing the citizenry, many of whom had waited 10 hours, their two minutes in front of the microphone.
Must admit, the 10,000 outside and 3,000 inside were impressive. Enough to make Paul Soglin feel young again (as should the day's primary vote). And they won't change a single vote. Because the majority of Wisconsin has already voted and they did so on November 2, 2010.
'Our state is fundamentally broke'
Here is one of the best brief explanations of where we are, how we got here, and why the governor's budget repair bill is fair and necessary.
"It's not a coincidence that this is the sixth time since Gov. Doyle was elected that some kind of budget fix has been necessary," says this letter from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Governor Walker has made it clear that union leadership has no interest in good-faith negotiation. Over the last ten years, even with a Democratic governor, every single state employee contract has been signed late. On average, they've been 15 months late, even though every single contract contained a net compensation increase, in good times and bad.
Moreover, the union leadership has made it clear that they have no interest in negotiating with Governor Walker: whether it's calling his proposals "an assault on the middle class" or a "war," or AFSCME's leader calling both Scott Walker (R) and Russ Decker (D) a "whore," or the veiled threats I and at least one of my colleagues have already received personally, which the authorities are investigating.
Would not be surprised if the Legislature does not vote on Senate Bill 11 until Friday or Saturday.
City of Madison protects its unions, not its taxpayers
Meanwhile, the mayor of Madison is all but encouraging this city's taxpayer-supported government workers to join the picket lines. To managers he wrote:
"I would like to encourage you to be flexible in approving paid leave requests during this time of uncertainty, also please be understanding of increased discussion of this issue amongst employees and their union representatives."
Thursday, Mayor Cieslewicz is convening an emergency meeting of the Common Council to, you guessed it, ram through sweetheart contracts for city employees while the getting is still good.
That they will do so is fore-ordained. That our elected city leaders will lock Madison taxpayers into more misery is also certain. Why do you think Gov. Walker is changing collective bargaining procedures for government workers at every level (with the exception of police and fire)? Answer: To give local elected officials more flexibility to negotiate taxpayer-friendly labor contracts.
Why does the governor wish to do that? Answer: to compensate for a dramatic decrease in state shared revenues. How dramatic? Try 8 to 10 percent.
For the city of Madison, subtract $3.7 million. Do that while the mayor and Common Council is adding a like amount in increased labor costs on behalf of their political allies, the government employee unions.
The Blaska Univac scores again!
Ol' Sparky, the Blaska Research Center's vintage Sperry Rand Univac computer, once again earned its ration of hulled oats with uncannily accurate predictions on Tuesday's primary election. No wonder I'm banned at certain Vegas sports books.
Dane County Executive: Parisi 26%, Bruskewitz 22%, McDonell 21%, Wineke 19%, Brandon 12%, Zimmerman 1%.
Blaska predicted Parisi 29%, Bruskewitz 22%, McDonell 20%, Wineke 17%, Brandon 10%, Zimmerman 2%.
Madison mayor: Soglin 49.5%, Cieslewicz 46.3%
Blaska predicted: Soglin 48%, Cieslewicz 46%.
State Supreme Court: Prosser 51%, Kloppenburg 28%, Stephens 11%, Winnig 10%.
Blaska predicted: Prosser 46%, Kloppenburg 34%, Stephens 12%, Winnig 8%.
How does he do it? He buys right!