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The Case For and Against Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Walker faces a historic recall effort. A careful examination of what he's tried to do since taking office will more clearly define his intentions than anything you'll see in a 30-second TV ad.

Some background: I am a politically independent, informed Wisconsin voter. I do not root for political teams. In fact, I hate it. I did not vote for Scott Walker in 2010. I will not vote for him in June, although I never would have signed a recall petition if asked. (Up until this point, he hasn't done anything worthy of petitioning for his removal. We'll see how the John Doe investigation plays out, but as of right now, he doesn't deserve to face this new election.) I am unsure if I will vote for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. He has run an exceedingly poor campaign and is not a terribly strong candidate. But I would much rather not vote for governor than to vote for the wrong person. (I'm still pretty proud of not voting for president in 2004.)

Walker has accomplished one profound, admirable feat whilst in office. He turned a projected budget shortfall of $3.6B into a projected surplus of $154M. Not too shabby. Most of this windfall has come from a bill forcing state workers to contribute to their pensions and medical benefits. Frankly, IMO, it is embarrassing that the state made it to 2010 without having public workers chip in for their medical benefits or pension funds, especially with the dire economic straits the state has been in for some time. Embarrassing. The move to force their hand on this was much-needed and long overdue.

http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/article/20120510/WDH0101/120510078/Wisconsin-projects-154M-budget-surplus

That being said, this feat was accomplished by accident by implementing the governor's strategy, which has always been to weaken his party's political opponents. Unions make up a large base of the Democratic Party, and automatic dues paid by members make up a large portion of political contributions to members of that party. That's the only reason the governor went after this sector of the workforce. His main goal was to cut out the mandatory dues, and he passed legislation that accomplished this, although a court later threw out that provision of the law.

http://www.staffordlaw.com/reports/parts-of-collective-bargaining-legislation-struck-down

How do I know what the governor's intentions were? Well, he told Congress. He told Beloit businesswoman Diane Hendricks (who later donated $500K to his campaign) that his union strategy was "divide and conquer" before he could make Wisconsin a "right-to-work" state. He later lied about his intentions to Congress and admitted that many of the provisions in the law would have no effect on the budget. (Inexplicably, Barrett has yet to make TV ads pitting the governor's words to Hendricks against his own words to Congress.)

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/barrett-walker-at-odds-over-divide-and-conquer-union-remark-oi5coda-151148935.html

So, in light of this, let's take a look at some of the legislation that has been passed or proposed since the Assembly, state Senate and governor were all controlled by Republican interests. Remember, I'm not looking at results, here; I'm looking at intent. And when you stack all the bills back to back to back, the intent becomes overwhelmingly clear.

Collective bargaining bill passed. Union dues no longer allowed to be automatically deducted from paychecks. Political contributions to opposing party severely weakened.

Voter ID law passed. Despite only a handful of voter fraud cases in the state in the past two decades, voter fraud is deemed to be a "serious problem" throughout the state. This legislation was crafted to fix a nonexistent problem. The real effect of the bill is that it is expected to disenfranchise 4-6 percent of the state's voters, most of whom are the working poor, the elderly, students of voting age or minorities who don't have a legal ID, for whatever reason. These groups tend to vote Democrat, again, for whatever reason.

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/article/2011/jun/12/does-wisconsins-new-voter-id-law-disenfranchise-vo/

As a way to alleviate concerns for the Voter ID law, a free ID was offered to anyone who didn't have one. A noble undertaking, to be sure. However, DMVs were instructed to not tell ID seekers about the free provision unless they specifically request it.

http://www.wisconsingazette.com/breaking-news/gop-memo-instructs-dmv-workers-not-to-tell-voters-that-photo-ids-are-free.html

Then, the order is given to close some DMVs in Democratic-leaning areas and to expand DMV hours in areas that lean Republican. This order was eventually scrapped because of public outcry, but, in my mind, the intent is clear and can't be interpreted any other way.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9OKSP800.htm

Redistricting gives the GOP another opportunity to gerrymander voting lines in their favor as much as the law allows. Every current sitting Democratic state senator is drawn out of his current district.

http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=34053

The Republicans who worked on the process were forced to sign oaths of secrecy while completing the new voting maps. Some voters were drawn out of being able to vote for their state senator in their expected timeframe because of logistics in timing and then moving districts; this is usually severely frowned upon. However, when you're making this kind of power grab, it doesn't matter who you step on to get what you want.

This new district setup left the state with nine conservative voting blocs and two liberal voting blocs (Madison and Milwaukee.) Then, in an obscene follow-up, a bill was introduced to change how the state's electoral college votes were counted during presidential elections.

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/10/13/wisconsin-proposal-would-change-electoral-voting-distribution-pa-mulls-similar-change/

This would leave the Republican candidate for president with a 9-2 or 8-3 advantage in every presidential election, even if the state's overall totals showed the Democrat with more overall votes.

Astounding, right? Incredible? You bet. Well, that's what our political process has devolved into. A knockdown, drag-out fight to weaken the other side with no regard for the citizens you represent. It just so happens that, in this case, the problem of the budget deficit was solved in the process. But I'm not sure I could ever support someone who solves problems as a side note to local/state/nation/world domination. Whether you can is a decision left up to you.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Craig May 31, 2012 at 04:35 PM
You have not been to the DMV to renew your DL I take it? There are signs everywhere, "Free Voter ID's" What a limp wristed article. Your statement, "I'm still pretty proud of not voting for president in 2004." speaks volumes - yet you write an opinion piece regarding politics.
Steve ® May 31, 2012 at 04:53 PM
►Union dues no longer allowed to be automatically deducted from paychecks. Political contributions to opposing party severely weakened.◄ Who said all in the public unions supported democrats? Forcing dues out of employees that directly benefits politics/policy they do not agree with is wrong. Let there be a choice of belonging to the union in a chosen profession.
Steve ® May 31, 2012 at 04:55 PM
►But I'm not very responsive to blind support of either side or tired talking points.◄ Then why the 5 sentences?
James R Hoffa May 31, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Mr. Junck brags about being an "informed Wisconsin voter," and yet, many of his so-called 'facts' tell only half the story, which have led him to outright incorrect, and quite frankly absurd conclusions about the Walker administration. Apparently, Mr. Junck has chosen not to research and/or do some independent thought above and beyond the typical propaganda, rhetoric, and talking points. Which of course has turned this 'commentary' into nothing more than a propaganda piece in and of itself. Then he makes the statement that he'd "much rather not vote for governor than to vote for the wrong person. (I'm still pretty proud of not voting for president in 2004.)," while failing to even acknowledge independent candidate Hari Trivedi. How exactly can you be "informed," Mr. Junck, when you apparently aren't even aware of Mr. Trivedi's canidacy? Did you even know that Ralph Nader was on the 2004 Presidential ballot? If you really want to be "informed," then might I suggest doing some more homework and actually committing some logical thought of your own into the process!
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Craig, no I haven't been to the DMV lately. But I did say I was looking at intent. And the fact is that the memo was sent out, period. From the link I posted: "An internal Republican memo instructs employees with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation not to tell state voters they can get a free photo ID – unless they specifically request one for free. Otherwise, they’ll be charged $28. The memo was sent out by former Republican state Senate aide Steve Krieser, the Huffington Post reported." This is what happened. Like it or not, this is the truth and it cannot be undone.
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Union dues no longer allowed to be automatically deducted from paychecks. Political contributions to opposing party severely weakened.◄ Who said all in the public unions supported democrats? Forcing dues out of employees that directly benefits politics/policy they do not agree with is wrong. Let there be a choice of belonging to the union in a chosen profession. Steve, it is of course perfectly fine to believe this course of action is the best one. If you're arguing that public unions don't overwhelmingly support Democrats, good luck with that one. I'm not weighing in on the issue either way. What I am saying is that the governor attacked this provision in current state law for the sole purpose of lowering the amount of money they could collect, and then donate to political candidates. To me, it appears that this motive is obvious, especially after you watch the video of him with Hendricks. That's what the governor did and that's why he did it. You are of course perfectly OK with agreeing with his actions. But the intent is there to weaken union political campaign contributions, not to solve the state's pending budget shortfall.
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 07:47 PM
That's funny that you would mention this as if it were 100 percent true. I voted for Nader in 2000. I know of Mr. Trivedi's candidacy; I still remember how confused I was when I saw his commercial during the Super Bowl. I've been to his website and looked around, and I'm paraphrasing here, "While the other candidates continue to bicker, I offer solutions." But in perusing his website, I didn't really see anything specific that looked like reasonable solutions. Although I admire Mr. Trivedi's courage in trying to run a third-party campaign, polls suggest that he will be completely irrelevant on June 5, which is why I didn't feel the need to mention him. But I find it interesting that you would presume all these "facts" about me by reading one piece I've written, and then using that to determine what I've done during the past. That's usually pretty effective for you, I'm guessing.
Steve ® May 31, 2012 at 07:55 PM
►the governor attacked this provision in current state law for the sole purpose of lowering the amount of money they could collect, and then donate to political candidates.◄ This is only your opinion, not fact. Who said all in the public unions supported democrats? How is it fair that their forced dues go into democrat campaign donations when the do not politically agree? Why are the unions only supporting democrats? ►not to solve the state's pending budget shortfall.◄ Since ACT 10 did fix the budget, even projects a surplus this statement does not have a leg to stand on.
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 08:09 PM
My "opinion" Hendricks: Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions? Walker: Oh, yeah. Hendricks: - and become a right-to-work (state)? What can we do to help you? Walker: Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is, we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer. So for us the base we've got for that is the fact that we've got - budgetarily we can't afford not to. If we have collective bargaining agreements in place, there's no way not only the state but local governments can balance things out. So you think city of Beloit, city of Janesville, any of the school districts, that opens the door once we do that. That's your bigger problem right there. Hendricks: Which state would you mirror? Is there any state that's already . . . Walker: Well, (Indiana Gov.) Mitch Daniels, did - now, see the beautiful thing is, he did it in Indiana, he had it by executive order that created the unions years ago, and so when he came in about a week after he eliminated through executive order. In Wisconsin, it's by the statute. So I need lawmakers to vote on it. But the key is by tying it to the budget, there's no way to unravel that. Because unless they're going to come up with $800 million for example - it's not exactly that amount, but it's close - there's no way they cannot pass that unless they're going to pass a tax increase ...
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 08:12 PM
First, the Court struck down the section that required annual re-certification elections. The new law required annual representation elections for many municipal labor unions. For local governments with collective bargaining agreements that expired at the end of 2011, those elections took place this spring. Most smaller units chose not to even seek re-certification and, as a result, the Union was disbanded. The Court’s decision would appear to undo the re-certification system entirely. As a result, any Unions that were disbanded this spring as a result of their choosing to not seek re-certification, are now reinstated. Further, if you thought you were going to have a re-certification election after your current contract expires, that is no longer the case.
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 08:15 PM
"As mentioned above, however, the court did not throw out the limitations on what can and can’t be bargained over. The law states that general municipal employees can bargain over only the “base wage rate” and nothing else. The annual maximum increase in the base wage rate is also capped by law. Those provisions remain in effect. As a result, the impact of the Court’s decision is somewhat limited. Employees are now Union members again and don’t have to face annual re-certification elections. But, they can only bargain over the base wage rate, any increase of which is capped by law. Second, the court threw out the provision that prohibited municipalities from deducting union dues from an employee’s paycheck. Municipalities will now have to choose, if asked, whether or not they want to voluntarily collect the dues on the Union’s behalf." If I had to guess why most public unions support Democrats, it's because the Dems try to appease by giving them what they want, even to the point of fiscal lunacy, and Republicans try to legislate away any and all gains they've made during the past 50 years, to the point where they'd like to make them indentured servants again. But that's just my best guess. Perhaps we could do something crazy and meet somewhere in the middle of those ideologies.
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 08:27 PM
My entire point that I've made with this article and my subsequent comments, Steve: If you put in the provision to make public employees chip in for their medical benefits and pensions in order to bridge the pending budget shortfall, and that works, and independents like me fully support that endeavor, why go the extra mile to attack mandatory union dues and end collective bargaining entirely except for pay raises that never will exceed the rate of inflation? What possible budgetary effect could those stipulations have? How do those provisions help keep the state government's books in the black? The short answer is: They don't. They were done merely to weaken their political opponents, to "divide and conquer" them, as the governor said. His intent is clear.
James R Hoffa May 31, 2012 at 08:51 PM
@Mr. Junck - You're completely forgetting about the other half of the equation. The public sector unions did nothing to promote merit while protecting tenure - this does not make for effective and efficient government, does it? Walker wanted to maximize the value of the taxpayer's dollar by assuring that public employees are giving 110% for their earned wages. After all, they call it 'public service' for a reason. The unions had no interest in revising their outdated model, thus Walker did what he had to do in order to fulfill his promises to the taxpayers in general - the public sector union membership included. And that's why he also promoted the concept that the localities that utilized the Act 10 tools also institute merit based pay - hence the taxpayer will actually start seeing an improved efficiency in their local and state governments. Remember the data collected by WEAC and published on its website until it was scrubbed for political reasons that proved this very point? Like I said before, you need to THINK beyond the propaganda, rhetoric, and talking points.
Randy1949 May 31, 2012 at 08:57 PM
For what it's worth, a memoir from someone who went to school with Scott Walker: http://wcmcoop.com/members/scott-walker-at-marquette-university-a-personal-rememberance-by-dr-glen-barry/
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Really, where are the "talking points" that cull together 8 links to check my facts and then the transcript of the governor's words? Where are the other people who do that when reiterating "talking points?"
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Also, the unions were on board with the extra contributions they were being asked to pay. Well, I wouldn't say they were on board with them, as any employee will most likely balk at the idea of paying more of your own money for something, (just look at the aversion to those making $250K+ have in paying 3.6 percent more in taxes each year.) But they were ready to deal with the consequences of those steps needed to plug the budget's projected shortfall. But eliminating their ability to collectively bargain felt like what the leaders of Arab countries were doing to their protesters in the streets. In their case, a brutal crackdown would break up the mob, and the threat would pass. In this case, the threat was the mob's money. So you go after the automatic dues to break up the mob's money, and the threat is passed. That's what "divide and conquer" means. Individuals don't have a voice in our society unless they also have a few billion in the bank account. Collectivism is the only way for the average citizen to have a voice in the current political landscape, and these dues are a way to make that a reality. And that's why they were targeted in the first place. If you want to bring up merit-based pay, fine. I'm actually a supporter of that. But people blaming teachers for low test scores at a particular school fail to realize the hardships those students face, or the complete lack of support they are getting at home from their parents or legal guardians.
Steve ® May 31, 2012 at 09:31 PM
None of this would be possible without eliminating collective bargaining, the unions would not bargain with Walker, period. You can not bargain with the taxpayer who has zero representation. This is old news... The collective barging part of the bill was stripped from the budget, this was the only way to get a vote without the 14 terrorist democrats that ran to Illinois. Forcing employees to contribute to a union they do not support is wrong. Allowing them to opt out of it, which would help offset their bennifit contributions was a fair move. Without collective bargaining the union dues are more and more pointless and if you do not support a democrat all the better. I know a lot of conservative teachers, seeing tier hard earned cash get funneled into democrat coffers to them is a big deal. We also found out how much that union was ripping the taxpayers for healthcare. What a lovely organization!
James R Hoffa May 31, 2012 at 09:45 PM
@Mr. Junck - Do your homework better. Yes, the state level public sector union leadership told Walker that they agreed to concessions but meanwhile, union locals in places like Janesville were introducing contracts in December 2010 and January 2011 that did not include the concessions and actually provided compensation increases for their membership. This is what is known as wild catting. However, the state level leadership that made the promises to Walker refused to take responsibility for the actions of their wild catting locals. Look at the AFSCME contract in Janesville if you don't believe it. Introduced in Jan 2011, approved in February 2011. No concessions present. Wage increases across the board. With the cuts in state aid and property tax freeze in the proposed budget, Walker had to provide localities with a way to deal with their budgets, and the unions weren't playing fair with him. "Individuals don't have a voice in our society unless they also have a few billion in the bank account. Collectivism is the only way for the average citizen to have a voice in the current political landscape, and these dues are a way to make that a reality. And that's why they were targeted in the first place." 1) Everyone has a voice through their duly elected political leaders, and everyone gets to vote for them - even union members. 2) Votes elect our leaders, not money Mr. Junck. The Koch brothers each get only one vote per race, just as you and I do.
James R Hoffa May 31, 2012 at 09:46 PM
3) People can donate to whatever causes they like - forced collectivism and contribution isn't necessary to do this. But keep on believing in your contrived conspiracy theories. Meanwhile the rest of us will live in reality.
James R Hoffa May 31, 2012 at 09:49 PM
"Although I admire Mr. Trivedi's courage in trying to run a third-party campaign, polls suggest that he will be completely irrelevant on June 5, which is why I didn't feel the need to mention him." He believes in the conspiracy theories and class warfare rhetoric and propaganda about the rich trying to control and rule over us, but then says something like this! Incredible! Please Mr. Junck, do us all a favor and start THINKING!!!
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 10:04 PM
And you think Walker actually cares about those conservative teachers who feel deprived by being forced to pay union dues that might go to support to Democratic candidates in the future? Or do you think he's serving his own self-interest by limiting their possible campaign donors?
Jason Junck May 31, 2012 at 10:06 PM
I agree that the unions also tried to subvert the new rules with that process. There are more than just the two examples you mentioned. Many more. I don't believe in conspiracy theories. But try to stay on topic instead of taking unnecessary potshots. Thanks. Unless you want to keep telling me what I was thinking for the past 12 years. I know you know more about that than I would. The reason I believe the rich have more influence over our elected leaders is because they do. Hendricks donated $500K+ to Walker. She got a face-to-face meeting with him for 5 minutes. How many average joes do you think have this opportunity? Voters, and really people in general, are muppets. They believe everything they see or read without the slightest bit of fact-checking. How do you think those chain emails get circulated? Television ads make a difference. A HUGE difference. That's why politicians go out of their way to get as much money as humanly possible before every election. Whether it's Walker hosting fundraising dinners in Texas, or George Clooney hosting an Obama fundraiser. The most accurate indicator of who is going to win an election is how much money the candidates receive in donations. And those with more money get a seat at the table. I, personally, will never donate to any political campaign, ever, for any reason. I think it's ridiculous. These people don't care about me and never will. They only care about getting re-elected, and Walker is no different.
James R Hoffa May 31, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Funny you mention that - I've had several face-to-face meetings and conversations with Walker on the campaign trail and didn't contribute a dime to his campaign. In fact, I've even talked to his parents on a few occasions - can Ms. Hendricks say that? If all you want to do is raz someone, then of course they're going to avoid you. But if you're serious about wanting to have a conversation with them, you'd be surprised just how easy it is to contact and talk to our political leaders. I've talked to many myself, not just Walker. If you don't like the infiltration of money, then you don't have to vote for the candidates that are receiving the big money contributions. If that's your biggest gripe, then take a stand and vote Trivedi. Just don't whine and complain that other choices / options don't exist, because they do. Again, money doesn't select our political leaders, votes do. If you and everyone else that comes on here and whines about how the system is rigged against the little guy would actually vote for guys such as Trivedi instead of just crying about how the system is rigged, don't you think that could potentially make a difference and start to change things?
Steve ® June 01, 2012 at 01:44 PM
I have already answered that question.
Unions_NO June 01, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Regarding " Voter ID law passed. Despite only a handful of voter fraud cases in the state" ... would that be the "handful" that were actually pursued, or the MANY that were dropped, ignored etc? You really think that voter ID would "...disenfranchise 4-6 percent of the state's voters, most of whom are the working poor, the elderly, students of voting age or minorities who don't have a legal ID, for whatever reason" - APPARENTLY forgetting that the bill provided funds for those unable to purchase an ID. If "OBAMA MONEY" was promised to be handed out with a valid ID, you would find no one unable to produce a valid ID. What a JOKE!
Unions_NO June 01, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Regarding: "An internal Republican memo instructs employees with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation not to tell state voters they can get a free photo ID – unless they specifically request one for free. " - of course no one in this state EVER asks for anything FREE? Are you kidding me????!!!
Lyle Ruble June 02, 2012 at 06:07 PM
@JRH...For someone who I respect for their intelligence, you certainly are showing resistance to acknowledge Jason Junck's intelligent analysis. I can see others who aren't as thoughtful as you rejecting it outright, but your response comes as a surprise. If you would go back in my blogs for nearly a year and half, you would see that I was raising the same issues as Jason. I also cautioned against trying to recall Walker to early. The time has come to dispassionately view the situation and be prepared to take whatever action is necessary to protect our freedoms from petty tyrants.
James R Hoffa June 02, 2012 at 06:51 PM
@Lyle - How are you doing? Just like you, I try to call out misconceptions when I see them. There is much more to like about Governor Walker than Mr. Junck acknowledges in his commentary, despite appearing to be all inclusive from an independent and objective point of view. And, on the points in which he takes issue with what Governor Walker did, there is also an opposing point of view. Mr. Junck comes off as having performed a complete analysis, but in reality, he missed a lot! I'm not saying that he isn't entitled to his opinion, as everyone is, of course. But he shouldn't come out and act like his analysis was all encompassing and that his conclusion are the end all on the issue. To do so would be quite naïve, wouldn't you say? Does Mr. Junck provide cites to support his conclusions - absolutely he does. And I realize that many people feel the same way when looking at those facts. But in all honesty, and even you must realize this, they're also missing the big picture as well. It's fun to believe in conspiracy theories, especially when you have little bits of fact that appear to support such theories.
James R Hoffa June 02, 2012 at 06:51 PM
But if we're to hold Walker fully accountable for those things, then couldn't one say that Barrett making promises to the voters of Milwaukee that he would fix MMSD, bring employers back into the area, lower poverty, reduce crime, etc. was nothing but a big conspiracy to get people to vote for him for Mayor so then he could make them all dependent upon him indefinitely into the future? After all, when you look at his record on those promises, MMSD is in no better shape than it was when he took office, employment in the city is down, poverty is up, crime is up, and on top of it all, the city is now leveraged like some piss poor South American country, having just recently experienced yet another downgrading of it's public debt offerings. See how easy is it to put together a conspiracy theory? In reality, I believe that both Walker and Barrett want the best for every citizen in the state of Wisconsin - they just have different approaches as to how to do it. And to me, Walker's approach would appear to make more sense. Barrett's approach, well, it's hard to say, because he won't tell what his approach would be specifically - only that it will be different than Walker's, which I for one believe is code for higher taxes for all. I personally believe that Wisconsin is already taxed enough and that the government can learn to provide its services more effectively and efficiently.
Lyle Ruble June 02, 2012 at 07:26 PM
@JRH...You and I will disagree about Walker's intent. I don't believe he has Wisconsin's best interest at heart. He has Scott Walker's best interest in mind. After working for many years with sociopaths, there is no doubt in my mind that the governor is clearly suffering from sociopathy. At some point tax revenues are going to have to be increased. You can only cut so much. Inflation will force increases in costs. As chief executive of the state, he has kicked his direct employees to the curb and under the bus.

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