Marc Eisen seems to be dancing around the issue of age discrimination in discussing the hiring practices of Epic Systems ("Epic Tale," 6/20/08). He notes that "Faulkner justifies the company's focus on hiring really smart young people right out of college rather than experienced candidates, because newbies are easier to mold into an 'Epic person'."
Evidently, no one over the age of 30 needs to apply at Epic since apparently the only really smart and adaptable people are young. Let's call this what this is: age discrimination.
Eisen notes that Epic "is famous for its rigorous screening of job applicants." No doubt true. Perhaps Eisen needs to be asking the tough questions of what constitutes Epic's criteria for hiring and for denying employment.
Is one of Dane County's largest employers engaging in age discrimination? Is it really a question that younger workers are easier to "mold" and, even if true, can't that excuse be used by all employers to deny jobs to older workers?
Realistic mass transit
I cannot believe Rick Berg's solution to rising gas prices is to build more roads ("Let Them Eat Commuter Rail," 6/27/08). Are we learning nothing from our current predicament? To relieve ourselves from the astronomical oil prices, we should find alternatives to it not drill for more. Alternatives like the proposed commuter rail.
This system would be more than a "choo choo" or an "amusement ride." It would provide realistic mass transit from Madison to Middleton and Sun Prairie, where many daily commuters live. Middleton does have a bus line, albeit meager, but the only way to Sun Prairie from Madison is by car.
And pardon me, but Lexus-driving executives are not the only residents of downtown Madison. I live downtown, a student without a car, and a rail would be a fantastic way for me to visit my sister who lives in, yes, Sun Prairie.
I agree that we need to give up our single-occupancy vehicles as we commute to work. I'm now biking three to four days a week. What seems critical, though, is consideration for commuters once they get to a central depot. Unfortunately, the "me generation" is reluctant to give up anything. So asking people to take two or three buses from a central depot to their place of employment is just not going to cut it.
I suggest the major employers in a community - in Madison that might be the state, university, health-care providers, etc. - meet their employees at the central depots with minibuses that run on a regular schedule.
We need a carrot-and-stick approach. In Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University staff are encouraged to give up campus parking places for free transit to and from work on minivans that run to outlying communities.
Transportation is free if you've given up your parking space. Lesson to be learned: Price parking at out-of-the-world levels. At Cornell, they've thought it through to the point where anyone facing an emergency at home is driven home to deal with the crisis.
Sure, listening to partisan squabbling ain't pretty,but is the alternative of bipartisan cooperation really the path to the promised land out of the state's slavery underthe WMC pharaoh?
History, the real, unvarnished, nitty-gritty history, suggests otherwise. That great 1974 pact you laud between former Gov. Pat Luceyand Democratic and Republican legislators to phase out machinery and equipment (M&E) from property taxes is a sterling case in point ("WMC's Predicament," 7/11/08).
A telling study by state Department of Revenue economists later showed that the gains to Wisconsin's economy in the decade that followed, which industry claimed were due to the tax break, were actually unrelated benefits sweeping the region at the time, and that the exemption was not the cause.
But there were returns elsewhere. Lucey - who, in so many other respects, was an excellent governor - got a free ride in his next run for re-election. Paul Hassett, the WMC president of that era - a true Wisconsin treasure, as you say - used to recount a telling story of what happened in the weeks ofM&E's midnight passage.
Shortly after he had encouraged WMC members to send in letters of appreciation to Lucey, the governor called him into his office.On Lucey's desk was a stack of those thank-you letters. He pulled the first one off from Allis Chalmers, and said he expects $4,000 from them, followed by his expectation in campaign contributions from each of the other companies who expressed their heartfelt appreciation.
Wisconsin taxpayers didn't do so well. Over the 30 years, residential property taxes increased 10 percentage points of the state's property taxes, while manufacturing property taxes have fallen by 9 percentage points, much of which is due to the M&E loophole.
Truly, when we see party leaders from both sides of the aisle join hands singing "Kumbaya," that's the time for all of us to hang on to our wallets. What we probably need more of is partisan clamoring, which suggests that one side is calling out the other for a terrible transgression. That's probably the best democracy can do.
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is 4,000 state businesses dedicated to making Wisconsin the most competitive state in the nation. It's that simple. Unfortunately, Marc Eisen's column mischaracterized WMC's legacy of achievements, and the record needs to be set straight.
WMC promotes public policies aimed at achieving our goal of making Wisconsin the most competitive state in the nation. That agenda is established by the WMC members and approved by the 52-member WMC board of directors from every corner of our state.
Our agenda is broad, and deep. The full text is online at www.wmc.org. The WMC agenda promotes tax relief, rational environmental regulation, regulatory fairness, quality transportation, reliable energy and high-quality education from kindergarten through technical schools and colleges.
And we promote those policies without regard for party or personality.
In the 1990s, WMC worked closely with both parties in the Legislature and Gov. Tommy Thompson to promote property tax relief, civil justice reform, school choice, regulatory relief and welfare reform.
We also opposed Thompson when he introduced a business tax hike. And Thompson was none too pleased when WMC highlighted the fact that Wisconsin's tax burden had crept up during his tenure. Both threatened our competitiveness.
WMC worked closely with Gov. Jim Doyle to cut corporate taxes and provide regulatory relief for heavy industry. And WMC opposed Doyle's vetoes of property tax freezes and civil justice reforms. Again, promoting good economic policies; opposing bad economic policies.
We are like the umpire in a baseball game, not a cheerleader on the sidelines. We are on the field, calling it like we see it rather than mindlessly salving the egos of incumbents without regard for the economic implications of their policies.
Not everyone agrees with our agenda. And we compete with opposing groups daily to have our views prevail among policymakers. But our motivation is the belief that Wisconsin is the greatest state in the nation, and we all need to band together to work diligently to make it even more competitive.
We offer the hand of friendship and cooperation to anyone who wants to join us in working to make Wisconsin the most competitive state in the nation.
James S. Haney, president
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
Your story "New Worries About Family Care" (6/27/08) identified Portage County as seeing a dramatic increase (38% to 62%) in the number of people with disabilities being sent to sheltered employment from the inception of Family Care in 2000 through 2005. However, this identification of sheltered employmentwas developed through an analysis of state statistics by advocacy groups.
The reality of Family Care's impact on sheltered employment in Portage County is this: Sheltered employment from 2000 through2007 increased 6.9% as a result of participant choice.
Portage County was one of three recipients of a Systems Change Grant from the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The end result was an elimination of sheltered-employment services offered to Portage County residents and a complete transition to community-based employment services.
By the time Family Care started in Portage County in 2000, no sheltered workshops existed in our county. Today, approximately 20 of our Family Care participants choose to travel to a neighboring county's sheltered workshop.
Jim Canales, chief executive officer
Community Care of Central Wisconsin, Stevens Point
Hold the politics
Finally! A literate, insightful culinary review from Raphael Kadushin unencumbered by political, sexual and religious editorializing ("Holy Cream Cheese, Batman," 7/4/08). We always knew you could do it!
Raphael Kadushin replies: If Appleton has noticed editorializing in any of my recent food reviews, he is seeing a whole lot of sociopolitical and erotic subtext in rib roasts and pizza. But if anyone really thinks politics has nothing to do with food, consider why bagels have become the only affordable meal for a lot of people in America today.
A bloody death
Regarding Making the Paper's "Traffic Report" (6/27/08) and "Phlebotomy" (7/4/08): When given a choice in radio news,people chose to listen to the likes ofRush over the likes of Air America. And when given a choice in TV news,people chose to view Fox over the likes of CBS.
When at long last given a choice in print news, peoplechose the Internet over the forced feedings of commie pinko propaganda. As a monopoly made up ofleftists, the print media was able to survive. Forced to compete in the real world, it hasbloody died. It isjustthat simple.
I am writing to express deep disappointment in Bob Patel, general manager of the Expo Inn, for saying that the south side doesn't have many "pillars of society" ("Heartbreak Motels," 7/11/08).
While the lovely Expo Inn is not in District 13, I can easily name many great neighbors in the south-side area of my district. They may not be featured in the society pages, but they are definitely "pillars of society."
Ald. Julia Kerr
Madison Common Council, District 13