Friday, March 11, 2011

Letter to Governor Walker by Brian Olig

To Governor Scott Walker:
     There have been throughout history events that have changed the world. Many times the resiliency of a people has been put to the test. The events in Wisconsin are no different. You believed that your election of last November was a mandate by Wisconsin citizens to get our fiscal house in order and that is partially true. However that was not the sum and whole of the mission many of us commissioned you for. Decades of irresponsible leadership in Madison by both democratic and republican administrations are contributors to the crisis that everyone faces. Governor Tommy Thompson, Scott McCallum, and Jim Doyle facilitated both budget and legislative failures.

     Most everyone would agree that the status quo can no longer be tolerated. The people of Wisconsin and of the nation are divided because the message is so sharply divided along party lines. There is no such thing as (bi-partisanship). Very rarely do all members of any house or assembly or senate know exactly what the substance of any particular bill or amendment to a bill might be. Neither does any of these elected geniuses fathom or truly try to understand the long lasting ramifications of what is legislated into law. The members of legislative bodies follow the lead of their respective majority & minority leaders. Rarely does anyone have the testicular fortitude to actually vote their conscience or consider the two legged relevancy among them (their constituents).

     The republican party of Wisconsin and the nation are going to pay the price for the political miscalculations of you and your administration. I find it terribly unfortunate. I voted the republican line in nearly every election since I was old enough to vote. Make no mistake about it Mr. Walker. It was not the unions their leadership or membership that has created budget shortfalls. On the federal level administrations, republican and democratic alike, particularly the Bush administration have been the largest contributors to the budget crisis. The states and citizens of this nation are experiencing heartbreak. The mismanagement of fighting wars on 2 fronts has been a financial fiasco, as well as and more importantly the loss of some of this nation’s best, brightest and bravest citizens. I don’t believe that any of these modern day hero’s willing sacrificed themselves so you or any administration could negate any rights that were legislated to the people.

     The financial collapse of Wall Street and the corporate greed on their part and the failure of leadership to respond appropriately led to the crisis ordinary citizens are facing every day. These corporate pirates should have been allowed to fail! Instead they get a government bailout courtesy of union & non-union taxpayers alike. Just what do “We the People” get in return? We get to read about the great financial rewards reaped by these profiteers annually. We also get to see our so-called democracy in action! Politician’s republicans again; and again place the blame & burden on the poor fools that have to make such modest decisions like to pay their mortgage or pay for utilities this month? Or seniors who have to decide between paying for their medication or purchasing food.

    There is no justice Mr. Walker if good men & women remain silent. I believe in certain protocols such as never negotiate with terrorists. Mr. Walker yourself & the republican senators have treated the people of Wisconsin and the democrats as though we are terrorists.  We shall not! And we dare not be silent! I have written to both my assembly representative Pat Strachota as well as my Senator Glenn Grothman. I received no response from either of them! I elected them! I am a big boy. I have my big boy pants on for quite a few years now.

     I accept and promote the premise that people can agree to disagree, however people of differing opinions should never be silenced. Even the dull & ignorant too have their story to tell.

     I provided both of my representatives with a viable option that would have brought democrats home from Illinois and even possibly granted you the outcome you desired. I suggested to both of them that if removing collective bargaining was that meaningful to the budget repair bill; then assign this bill to a referendum question on the April ballot. Of course to do that you would have risked defeat of the passage of that bill. Mr. Walker this could have been your defining moment to truly lead Wisconsin. You could have been a leader that unites instead of showing your lack of leadership by polarizing and being divisive among the people of this great state. For government to infringe on the rights of a group of people is to infringe on the rights of all people.

     So Mr. Walker, I wish you good fortune and good luck. Please by all means keep entertaining all your corporate sponsors and wealthy elitist friends. Please also keep in mind one last thing that I remember hearing actually quite often through the course of my lifetime. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle; than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven”.

Brian J. Olig

PS. The last line was not a quote nor spoken by any republican or lobbyist.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rings True To Me by Kyle Henderson

Mr. Governor,

I'm what most people would call a moderate Democrat, so feel free to interpret my comments in that light. But I am also a citizen of Wisconsin, and I don't want our state to fail. I'm sure you don't either. I'm sure your budget proposals stem from your desire to advance our state's health over the long term. And so, as a moderately left-of-center communications expert, I'd like to offer a suggestion to help you succeed in the interest of Wisconsin's well-being.

You say that your budget proposal's deep cuts to public education, shared revenue, environmental programs, and tax credits for the poor are necessary to ensure Wisconsin's future fiscal health. You also say public-union rights long enjoyed in Wisconsin—such as collective bargaining, mandatory membership, and automatic dues payment—must be eliminated in order to give local governments the "tools" and "flexibility" to operate in the context of reduced state aid without having to impose layoffs.

Your opponents have, for the most part, pledged to give you what you want on the former; they have vigorously opposed your plan for the latter. They are winning that communications battle. Every poll shows that strong majorities support your quest for fiscal health but oppose restrictions on workers' rights. You ignore this broad public sentiment at your peril.

You are most likely hearing fellow ultra-conservatives urging you to stand strong and refuse to budge on these restrictions, as lessening the power of unions in general and public unions in particular will advance the ultra-conservative cause. Given your history and temperament, these recommendations undoubtedly confirm your impulses. But if you want to succeed in advancing your vision, you should resist this narrative. It appeals only to partisans on one side of the debate. It alienates the center that overwhelmingly elected you and your Republican compatriots in the assembly and the senate—and can overwhelmingly turn you out.

If you are to move Wisconsin closer to your vision, you must be a statesman, not a CEO. Chief executives of businesses must focus on this quarter's shareholder value, maximizing profits using whatever means are required. And they give orders, which subordinates must obey or be fired. Statesmen don't have that option. They must focus on a state's long-term health, which includes much more than reaching a 0 balance on a spreadsheet.

You probably will respond to that distinction by claiming that all of your proposals serve Wisconsin's long term interests, as you see them. Fair enough. I disagree, but that's not the point of this appeal.

If you are to be a statesman and not a CEO, you are obligated to take into account more than your own ideas of reasonableness, more than your own values. You must, to the degree you are able, prevent the kind of conflict our state is experiencing in no small part because of your own rigidity.

So here's my suggestion, given in good faith and with hope for settling our current crisis: I propose that you schedule another "fireside chat" and say the following:

"I love Wisconsin, and the conflict ripping us apart isn't good for our state. I take responsibility for my part in this conflict, as I know my budget proposals represent a significant and sweeping change in direction. You have, with your votes, placed me in a position of leadership. My proposals reflect my sincere beliefs about what is best for our state in the short-term and for the future.

"However, I must lead—even when leading requires me to accept less than what I believe is ideal. Therefore, I have decided to propose a principled compromise designed to advance our fiscal health while listening to the values of many of you concerning our state's tradition of union rights. I will remove all restrictions on union operations from my budget-repair bill and from my biennial budget. I will trust that our public unions will fulfill their pledge to accept all of the budget's fiscal provisions, even those that require painful sacrifice on the part of public employees, public education, and other state expenditures.

"With this compromise, our senators and those protesting at the capitol can return home. And Wisconsin can return to engaging in arguments over ideas, rather than a conflict that is crippling us and leaving me with no alternative but to impose layoffs. Make no mistake, I cannot in good conscience propose a budget that does not address our fiscal problems. As I have said repeatedly, we are broke. All of us must take that as seriously as the demands to take seriously our Wisconsin tradition of union rights.

"I will submit a new budget bill with the controversial union provisions removed. Once I have done that, I urge the senators to return so that we can move forward to fix our state's fiscal issues together in the interest of all Wisconsinites."

Governor Walker, say that and you will win the narrative battle. You will be hailed statewide and nationally as a conservative statesman, strong enough to stand for fiscal responsibility and strong enough to reach a hand across the aisle to do so. Fail to say that, and you will be decried as a pariah, too weak in your rigidity to understand the context and work within it to accomplish your goals.

Not budging, to use your words, will work well for us Democrats in the next election cycle. But it won't work well for our state's health. Which should be more important for both Democrats and Republicans than political strategy.

Rings true to me, Governor Walker. And you?

by Kyle Henderson

Post #1

Here's the first post.  Put your letter in the comments and I'll put it up in the main body of the blog shortly.  Thanks and let the Governor know how you really feel!