Dems finally dump Decker -- too little too late
I haven't been a fan of Sen. Russ Decker pretty much since he was first elected Majority Leader in 2007. Almost immediately, it became apparent that the Wausau politician was more interested in kowtowing to moneyed corporate interests than to helping average citizens. He pushed the contentious Video Competition Act while lying about it being a priority, stalled on smoking legislation, and opposed tighter drunk driving laws, while himself being an offender.
More recently, Decker has been accused of dragging his heels in regards to bringing state worker contracts up for a vote during the lame-duck session. And then, when he finally did bother to show up last night, Decker joined fellow Democrat Jeff Plale and all Republicans in voting no on the first of 17 state employee contracts.
Sen. Bob Jauch proceeded to tear Decker a new one, echoing a thought I'm sure was on many other minds by saying, "I've seen a lot of selfish things done in this legislature. But I've never seen anything quite this selfish."
The Democrats then went into caucus, and when they reemerged had ousted Decker as Majority Leader, replacing him with Sen. Dave Hansen.
That's all well and good (and richly deserved, in my humble opinion), but is it too little too late? We're already in the lame duck session, after all, and Decker lost his reelection bid in November, so it's not as though this amounts to anything more than a slap on the wrist for him. And both Decker and Plale knew it, since they went on to vote with Republicans on the rest of the contracts.
Rumors abound, too, that Decker (along with Plale) is angling for a position in the incoming Walker administration -- which would jibe with his stated reason for voting against the contracts:
Ironically, it was the Buildings and Trades contract that Decker, a former carpenter and member of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsman union, voted down. Decker referenced his experience negotiating contracts in his speech, saying it had taught him not to "stick the new employer in the eye."
So Decker kind of sucks -- most of us have known that for some time now. This final FU to the Democrats only cements that knowledge and broadcasts it for all the world to see. AFSCME Council 24 executive Marty Beil, who was at the Capitol for the proceedings, summed up the feeling of the evening well: "Decker's a whore." Perfect.
How much of a whore we won't know until Walker makes his various appointments, of course. But it seems clear that Decker is thinking more about his own job security than that of the state workers he's just helped to royally screw:
Most Democrats said approving the contracts running from July 2009 to June 2011 was the right course because they are already 18 months old and included no raises and $103 million in concessions. That includes 16 unpaid furlough days over two years - a 3.3% pay cut.
But Decker said he was not comfortable voting for the contracts now that the "people have spoken" and voted him and other Democrats out of office. He blamed Gov. Jim Doyle and unions for not reaching an agreement on the contracts before the Nov. 2 election.
"If these contracts had been brought to us before the elections, as they should have been, this would have been an entirely different situation," said Decker, who later declined further comment.
Like how he shifts blame entirely onto the shoulders of Doyle and "the unions" here? I'm not saying there isn't plenty of blame to go around, but harping on people who've already had to swallow pay cuts and concessions aplenty -- and a governor with whom there is already no love lost -- is transparently lame.
The icing on this cake? Decker voted for the contracts earlier in the day when they were in committee.
We don't have political parties or politicians anymore; we have divas. It's theater, ladies and gentlemen! Terrible, terrible theater.
How to criticize Sean DuffyYesterday I received a press release from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin lambasting incoming Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI 7) for his recent appearance on The View
While the release eventually gets around to calling Duffy out for legitimate shortcomings -- specifically his misleading statements about being an actual timber worker (as opposed to someone who has just competed in timber sports) and spotty work ethic as a district attorney -- the dramatic intro focuses on Duffy's supposed quest for fame.
Heck, it may even be true that Duffy is nothing but a spotlight hound -- but the manner in which the press release addresses the issue is so sophomoric that it severely weakens any proceeding, legitimate arguments. I'd call out an official Republican Party press release for using language like this, so the Dems don't get a free pass:
Reality tee-vee stars Sean Duffy and his wife praised how in-touch they were with Wisconsin values and how much they wouldn't let celebrity change them - by going on the ultimate celebrity show, "The View."
That's right, they spell it out as "tee-vee." When did the WisDem's PR writer turn into a third-rate blogger? That sort of childish tactic does nothing to bolster an argument and just makes you look petty and immature, frankly.
Also, guess who else has appeared on The View, and drew no such criticism from the WisDems? That would be President Barack Obama, who sat down with the show's hosts in July of this year.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of The View, myself. I think I've seen a grand total of one episode and found it to be a little too much of the same old superficial news and current events commentary that just about every other channel already carries.
And again, I think Sean Duffy is ripe for criticism -- about his past job performance, faulty rhetoric, and future work as a representative. I would love to see the WisDems (and other Democratic, progressive groups and people in this state) stick to that, and leave the sensationalized name-calling to Fox News.
Intrepid Capital Times reporter Kristin Czubkowski has written a comprehensive piece about just what Walker's killing of the high-speed rail line means for Madison. Well worth a read.
Efforts are officially underway to fundraise for the planned public skate park that will (hopefully) go in as the first piece of the new Central Park in Madison. This would be an invaluable resource for youth and adults alike. Click the link for details on how you can contribute!