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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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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