Don't blame union
I read with interest Marc Eisen's opinion piece "Can Unions Reboot for the 21st Century?," 7/29/2011). As a union activist and officer, I even had to agree that too many leaders have been far too complacent for too long.
However, I emphatically disagree when he accuses government employee unions of traducing the public good. His use of the Milwaukee County "buy back" pension scandals as "exhibit A" for this claim is disingenuous. At most 500 employees benefited from the buy-back scheme uncovered by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dave Umhoefer in July 2007. Admittedly, more were potential beneficiaries from the pension abuse uncovered in 2001. However, both buy-back schemes were engineered by small cliques on the County Pension Board and the retirement office, aided by all-too-quiescent majorities on the County Board of Supervisors. If Mr. Eisen knows of union involvement in this misconduct, he knows more than Mr. Umhoefer or anyone else at the Journal Sentinel.
The straight facts
It's nice to know Christian Schneider isn't opposed to Tammy Baldwin because she's gay ("Conservatives Don't Care If Tammy Baldwin Is Gay," 8/5/2011). However, Mr. Schneider's claims about conservatives not caring about Rep. Baldwin's sexual orientation are pure conjecture. He cites no facts or statistics to support this claim. It's easy to find conservatives or liberals with views that diverge from expectations, but statistically, conservatives are far less accepting of gay people than liberals. Support for civil unions in statewide polls is not the same as acceptance of LGBT people, nor an indication that many conservatives overlook Baldwin's sexual orientation.
Care Net misrepresented
In "Jesus.gov" (8/5/11), Annie Laurie Gaylor faults Gov. Walker for including a link to Care Net on Wisconsin.gov. I am no fan of Walker or his agenda and won't comment on the link's appropriateness. What is not appropriate is the article's misrepresentation of Care Net.
As a former Care Net staff member, I can attest to the high standard of integrity, truthfulness and respect for clients that is required of all staff and volunteers. Deception, pressure or manipulation of clients is not tolerated. Contrary to Gaylor's implication that Care Net provides "misinformation about abortion and birth control," Care Net does not provide birth control information and is committed to providing only the most accurate information about abortion. Its marketing makes clear that it does not offer or refer for abortions.
Divided we stand
I was going to respond to the "Not My Madison" feature in the July 29 Isthmus, but figured there would be plenty of other replies. More significantly, though, I thought it wasn't worth the bother.
"Editor Dean Robbins replies" (Letters, 8/12/11) is worthy of response. It's one thing to feature mediocre writing in a publication, but it's not something to be defensive about. It is dishonest to characterize criticism as "your version of orthodoxy." I spent a lot of time at the Capitol over the past several months, and I didn't see anything hateful.
As for the article writer's fears of politics dividing Madison, boo-hoo. Our bucolic little enclave of nicety is going through a change. The state of Wisconsin is too. The entire U.S. too. Planet Earth too. In case you haven't noticed, the presence of Homo sapiens on this little sphere is getting mighty precarious. If a little division happens on the way to actually solving problems, it's a small price to pay.
Editor Dean Robbins replies: Author Terry McCoy did not say the protests were "hateful." That was the perspective of a right-winger he interviewed - someone McCoy called "unhinged."