Schneider vs. the unions
Christian Schneider pays perhaps too much attention to tweets and other soundbite answers to why Scott Walker is wrong. I don't tweet and take offense to Schneider's suggestion that Walker's opponents don't have anything of substance to offer (Opinion column, 3/25/11).
Can you find examples of where union rules are getting in the way of important changes? Of course. Throughout Wisconsin, however, you will find many more examples of how collective bargaining has helped the process work better. More often than not, the primary focus of unions is on improving things for everyone and not, as he claims, lining their own pockets and bolstering their own political power.
Schneider states, "Unions collect millions of dollars in dues from public employees, then shift that money directly into efforts to elect Democrat [sic] politicians...." That's not how political donations actually work.
In the case of unions as well as business associations, it is done through political action committees (PACs), which are legally barred from putting dues in their PAC funds. They may solicit donations from anyone including their members, but it is always a separate donation.
Isthmus should not allow itself to be used in this way by political hacks.
Of course Twitter is a poor medium for expressing political analysis, as Schneider observes. It is a pity he couldn't do much better in a newspaper column.
At least Schneider is clear about one thing: the political origins of Walker's so-called budget repair bill. Evidently it really is all about defunding the Democratic Party.
And how is [having public employees] lobby for increased public spending in any way different from, say, road builders lobbying for increased highway spending? Oh, that's right, the road builders fund the Republicans. The hypocrisy really is stunning.
Dining Guide a disservice
Newcomers to Madison might see the Isthmus Dining guide (insert, 3/25/11) and think it is a comprehensive list of Madison eateries, or a listing of the top dining establishments in town. Either would be an understandable conclusion, given the publication's subtitle, "The Guide to Restaurants in the Madison Area." Unfortunately, neither is the case.
Your Dining guide is nothing but a thinly veiled advertising insert, covering only restaurants that have chosen to toss their ad dollars your way. It omits many fine restaurants at all points along the price and cuisine spectrums, doing a disservice to both your readers and the Madison restaurant community.
This guide should be prominently labeled as an advertising supplement; to do otherwise is playing fast and loose with reality.
Dennis B. Appleton
Dining Guide editor Linda Falkenstein replies: The Dining guide stories are all written entirely without regard to who does or doesn't buy an ad. The writers usually come up with the story ideas themselves, long before the ad deadline.
The list of restaurants in the Dining guide is not comprehensive (we do run such a list once a year, in August, in the Annual Manual). That's why it specifically states it is a "guide to advertisers and mentioned restaurants." It also includes any restaurant that has won a top spot in the previous year's Madison Favorites Poll, from the previous year's Annual Manual.