NOTE: Need to revise my original item, thanks to eyes sharper than mine. This is an edit made on Tuesday morning, December 15.
Speaking of the Regional Transit Authority, expect a lawsuit sometime after the first of the year from some of the municipalities challenging the county's creation of an RTA that could impose a half-cent sales tax on some portions of the county but not others (mainly the periphery). Some of those who would be taxed - namely, those who live outside of city and village limits - have no direct representation at all. None are elected and neither the enabling state legislation nor the county ordinance creating the RTA requires a referendum before the tax is levied.
In Waunakee, village president John Laubmeier told Blaska'sBlog, "The Village Board has not decided what it is going to do as of yet. We will probably decide in early January."
Kowtowing to the teachers union
The Capital Times is very concerned about democracy in Milwaukee, but in Dane County? Not so much. You knew it was only a matter of time before The CT would mouth the teachers union's line and come out against mayoral takeover of Milwaukee's failing public schools.
The CT actually conjures up old King George 3. Fire up the tea party!
You want taxation without representation? How about the Dane County Regional Transit Authority - nine unelected people appointed by seven appointing authorities with the power to level a half-cent sales tax that would raise $42 million a year without recourse to a referendum! But the CT had no problems with that.
The essence of democracy is accountability. You like what the candidate stands for, s/he gets your vote. If not, throw the bum out!
Difference: you can vote for a mayor and people do. Only 4 percent vote for School Board in Milwaukee. And which school board member is the bad guy? That's the problem with the legislative branch - difficult to tell. No such problem with the chief executive.
Same with the unelected Landmarks Commission, whose actions can force the elected Common Council to muster a super majority. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz says it well on The Capital Times website:
Putting major public decisions in the hands of people you probably don't know, are hard to contact and aren't accountable at the next election is, as I've said, anti-democratic.
The argument is the same for the Department of Natural Resources. The governor of the state must be ultimately responsible. Otherwise, the buck stops nowhere.
It's proven to work
Chicago's mayor appoints the school superintendent - that fellow is now Obama's secretary of education. So do the mayors of New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Washington D.C.,; the latter once ranked at the bottom:
Student test scores released by the U.S. Department of Education last week showed that Washington's fourth-graders made the largest gains in math among big city school systems in the past two years. [Wall Street Journal: Whose got Michelle Rhee's back?]
Why would Wisconsin take a pass on the $250 million Washington is dangling in front of it? Here is the one single area where Gov. Jim E. Doyle may yet make a legacy. Can Democrats let their governor and his heir apparent, Tom Barrett, hang out to dry on this core issue? If Doyle/Barrett can't move a Democrat legislature to apply for federal handouts, what can they do?
Breaking the thuggish mentality
Hooray for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel! Here is an African American man, reporter James E. Causey, on the core issue:
All of these kids are fascinated in some way with the "thug" or "goon" mentality. And that disrupts the learning process in schools, places neighborhoods on high alert and keeps Milwaukee's jails full.
Unfortunately for wannabes, they try so hard to impress gang members that they often find themselves immersed in the same negative behaviors. …
Breaking this thuggish mentality is critical to tackling the gang problem and addressing a widespread achievement gap between city and suburban schools. …
Teachers have long complained about minority children failing to realize their potential out of fear of being labeled as "acting white." So they disrupt the class, skip school and fail themselves.
Yes, to aggressive performance-based governance of our schools. That starts with the raw material - the children. Again, a city mayor is in much better position to effect systemic change, including access to the bully pulpit.
Sen. Lena Taylor thinks the Mayoral takeover of MPS could pass the State Senate if it ever comes to a vote, according to the MacIver Institute.
Print is dead, or not
Print be dead:
Next month Tucker Carlson, the Fox News commentator and one-time CNN "Crossfire" host, along with former Cheney aide Neil Patel, plans on launching The Daily Caller, an ambitious and well-funded conservative web site that Carlson says "will be defined by its reporting, by the new facts it adds." But he's going to have company.
Andrew Breitbart, who's already made some dents in what he considers the "Democrat-media complex" in 2009, says he's going to roll out his own site, Big Journalism, a few days earlier - designed, he says, to report stories that the mainstream media is either missing or willfully ignoring. So reports Politico (on-line, of course).
Print not be dead:
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, news hawkers sold out of the city's newest newspaper, the 320-page, broadsheet Panorama. Thanks to Time (on-line, of course).