Saturday, December 10th, 2016

The real distractions

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Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Apr 26, 2012; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8A

The real distractions
Act 10 success is real story of recall

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

As those of you that follow me online already know, this last weekend I was at BlogCon 2012 in Charlotte, N.C. Roughly 200 conservative bloggers and online journalists from around the country gathered to share ideas and techniques.

I’ll confess to an excessive amount of socializing, too. While our friends on the left are well practiced in “occupying” parks in their tents, we were quite successful in our Occupy Hotel Bar movement.

But whether it was in the learning sessions, the hotel bar, or even the nearby restaurants, I was never far from a discussion of Wisconsin’s recalls. Everyone wanted to meet the writers from Wisconsin, and not just because I am so good looking.

A couple from Oregon asked me about the recalls because Gov. Scott Walker’s reforms made them aware of how much the public employee unions were in control of their state. They said it was “corrupt” how a union could contribute so much money to elect the public officials who would then negotiate with the same union on wages and benefits. They’re hoping that Wisconsin sets the example for the rest of the country and breaks the cycle.

A blogger from Indiana told me she was praying for the people of Wisconsin. Others expressed concern for Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, wanting to make sure people in Wisconsin were fighting for her, too.

From California to North Carolina, everyone I spoke with had an opinion about Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 reforms. When the political left chants, “The whole world is watching,” they’re right. The whole world is watching to see if Walker’s Act 10 reforms are working, and if they’ll be overturned in the recall process.

That’s why I was surprised when I came back to Wisconsin to hear Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett call news of the latest budget savings totals of Act 10 “a distraction.”

In case you missed it, Walker announced this week that Act 10 had saved state and local governments $1 billion so far. Barrett said the savings distracted from the governor’s record and the Democratic Party, while claiming the numbers were inflated, also claimed the budget savings were an attempt to distract from the governor’s record.

A distraction from the record? I thought the whole idea of the recall movement was to repeal Act 10. Isn’t Act 10, the reforms of the public employee unions’ abilities to negotiate for benefits and workplace rules, the whole reason the teachers unions shut down schools last year to march on Madison? Isn’t the collective bargaining reform law the reason union leaders pressured Kathleen Falk to promise to veto any state budget that does not include repeal of the law if she is elected governor? Isn’t the collective bargaining law the reason why Republican legislators have been stalked and harassed in Madison?

You want to talk about distractions? This week Barrett received the endorsement of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association despite Barrett’s letter to state legislative leaders last year demanding that Act 10 also include police and firefighters. Walker specifically excluded those two categories of public employees because of concerns for public safety, but the union is less concerned in protecting its membership than it is in recalling Walker.

Making the endorsement even more unseemly is the number of police officers in Milwaukee who have been critical of the mayor’s response to the radio system failures, something they consider a direct threat to their safety. Obviously the recall has become a distraction for the WPPA from its mission of serving its membership.

Perhaps the reported $1 billion in savings from Act 10 is a distraction from how Barrett himself used the Act 10 reforms to fix his city’s budget. Act 10 produced a net savings for his city of $11 million. It would have saved $8.3 million more if not for an opinion from the city attorney that the pension savings from Act 10 did not apply in Milwaukee.

Or perhaps the issue of Act 10 is a distraction from how neither Barrett nor Falk have announced how much they will have to raise taxes if Act 10 is repealed. We’ll start with $1 billion.

The rest of the country sees and understands that the real issue in Wisconsin is whether the Act 10 reform will survive. Don’t let Barrett and the Democrats distract you from understanding it, too.

JAMES WIGDERSON

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