Will wonders never cease?! Now my old boss Dave Zweifel, a lifelong proponent of government as the employer of first resort, has jumped aboard the "right-sizing" bandwagon - even though said bandwagon seems to be stuck in neutral. It is "Time to Rethink Local Government," Dave writes on the CT website:
We citizens ought to take a serious look at how inefficient so much of our local and state governments have become and make some overdue changes. … Dane County has taken over the zoo, the airport and combined its health department with the city of Madison's in recent years. … How much more efficient could it be to form a metropolitan police and fire department? A countywide ambulance service? A countywide garbage collection system? The list of potential savings is endless. (The Capital Times 4-29-09)
Efficient? Savings? Can liberals even use those words?
Gosh, Dave, when I was working to merge the health departments (I authored the legislation and walked and talked the proposal for several years) you dismissed my efforts as "merger mania." Until, that is, I pointed out that Capital Newspapers Inc. was itself the product of a merger. Only at the last minute, before the Mayor and County Exec put ink to paper, did you relent. (I actually wrote major sections of the merger agreement with city and county legal counsel.)
While the idea has always seemed appealing on paper, we have remained skeptical. (The Capital Times, 12-18-2004)
"Skeptical" is an understatement.
I blogged awhile back that Our Current Governor is a furious nibbler. Would this be a good time to consolidate government? Well, that takes political courage. Instead, Jim Doyle creates an entirely new department of state government. Did we need a Department of Children and Families, when it worked just fine within the former Department of Health and Family Services?
Speaking of Dave, how many times has he denounced plans to fortify Social Security for the long term? My Social Security benefits statement, just received, reads "the Social Security system is facing serious financial problems and action is needed soon to make sure the system will be sound … In 2017 we will begin paying more in benefits than we collect in taxes. … Without changes, by 2041 the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted and there will be enough money to pay only about 78 cents for each dollar of scheduled benefits."
U.S. Rep.Paul Ryan notes "the president's budget makes the problem worse by expanding entitlement spending by $1.4 trillion over the next ten years."
Ed, you first
The always-genial Ed Garvey blogs that the current recession and $6.5 billion state deficit requires " creative thinking not Pavlovian responses." Here's Ed's "creative" salivating:
Friends, it is time to raise taxes. Let me shout: time to raise taxes.
Ed, it's always time to raise taxes at your house, just like it's always happy hour for my troubled aide de camp, Ruben Mamoulian, at Stately Blaska Manor.
Credit where it is due
The Capital Times defends Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele, who the mayor is trying to "marginalize" by not appointing her to her committee interest strengths.
Madison's City Council has always had room for a range of opinion, for distinct personalities and political styles, and for the sparring that goes with such diversity.
The CT chided former Ald. Brenda Konkel for blogging that:
No one wants to listen to what might come out of her mouth, except that it might be mildly entertaining and have a certain incredibility/horror factor.
But then it writes:
It also happens that, while we saw Konkel's dissents as useful, we understand that Pham-Remmele's can at times be cruder and more unsettling.
Crude? Thuy? Examples please. Can't be as crude as proposing that vagrants be allowed to piss out in the open in city parks, as Madame Brenda did. BTW: That is what beat her. There is a limit even in a close-in Isthmus district like hers.
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- James Wigderson has a hilarious David Lettterman-style Top Ten send-up on disgraced (and disgraceful) former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland's tell-all book. My favorite: "Really wished the Village People would play more church festivals." Weakland objected to welfare reform when I was in the governor's office as "immoral." We used to call him "Weak mind," never realizing that he was also "Weak morals." This is a guy who paid hush money from the church coffers to an alleged molestation victim/lover, what have you.
- President Obama objects to the release of the so-called torture pictures, earning him "strange new respect" in my camp and the enmity of the ACLU and its fellow travelers. President Obama has ordered government lawyers to object to the planned release of additional detainee photos, the White House said Wednesday.
"The president was concerned about harm to the troops," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday afternoon.
- Here's an odd thought. It is a rainy afternoon this Wednesday. So it occurs to me that today might be a good day to take in a Brewers baseball game. Never would have occurred to me 10 years ago in old County Stadium. (Saw the last game ever there in 2000 with No. 1 Son.)