Sunday, July 17, 2011

Issue #12- July 17, 2011 Upcoming Week and the Sunday Paper

What This Is…
Issue #12- July 17, 2011  Volunteer Opportunities and an Angry Elf reads the WSJ.

This Week…
This week features the first "real" recall election on Tuesday, July 19.  Sen. Hansen (D) from the Green Bay area faces a Republican challenger.  It goes without saying that we can't afford to lose any of our Senate seats so this is a very important vote.  Here are ways that you can get involved this week.

-Canvassing in Green Bay Tuesday (7/19)- Groups will be leaving the Labor Temple in two waves to go to Green Bay and support Senator Hansen.  The first wave leaves at 9 AM and the second at noon. 
-Phone Bank/Data Entry/Postcards- The phone banking and other activities continue all week at the Labor Temple.  Hours for volunteers are from 3-9 and people are needed every day.  Monday and Tuesday would be great days to get a large turnout.  Thursday continues to be MTI's day on the phones. 

Future Events…
There are a couple of other dates to plan ahead for:

-Monday July 25, Detroit Rally with the UAW- Anyone who is in Detroit on that day should try and attend.

For both the 9th and 16th elections there will be extra canvassing and phone banking leading up to voting day.

-August 9/General Election for the 6 Republican Senate Seats- There are requests out for volunteers to go to Waukesha and do exit polling there to help monitor the validity of the vote there.

-August 16/Election for Holperin and Wirch

News? or Why I'm an 
Angry Elf…

I bought the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal for the first time in weeks today.  I've been a reluctant reader of this paper for a couple of reasons.  First, the paper has consistently had a negative view of teachers.  Second, they don't provide in-depth coverage of events and I find more detailed information from other sources.  Once all the turmoil started in February I found it more and more difficult to tolerate the inadequate reporting and simply went elsewhere for news.  

I must admit that it is difficult for me to not get a daily paper.  I've always tried to keep up on current events and used multiple sources to do so.  It seems so logical that the more information gathered from many sources the more informed one becomes.  This holds true as long as we read carefully and think about what we are being told.  That is our obligation as a citizen, to be informed about what is going on so that we can exercise our rights responsibly. 

Today I broke down and put my $2 in the machine to get the coupons…oops I meant the paper.  I sat down to read and immediately found these little items that got me thinking.  

**An AP story about the phone hacking scandal in England raised this question, "(The phone scandal) has shaken its media world.  But will it really change the nation's press?"  The article went on to say that, "Much depends on the shelf life of the outcry over alleged skulduggery by journalists…"  The same holds true in Wisconsin as we struggle against the attacks on our rights by the Republicans.  Simply replace the word "journalists" with Republican leaders and it fits perfectly.  Our fight will only be successful if we can keep the majority of citizens informed about the consequences of the Walker agenda.  If the common person forgets or loses interest they won't participate in the elections and special interest money will carry the day.  We all know who has the most money, don't we.  Keep talking to your friends, neighbors, etc. and tell them what is truly happening here.

**Speaking of money, how about the M&I executives' payouts from their merger with the Bank of Montreal?  Mark Furlong (president and
CEO of M&I) got $18 million and will get $6 million more for staying with the company for a year.  Combined with other executives' packages the payout package is worth $95 million. 

Why aren't more people outraged by this?  People from the banking industry look at these types of numbers as "the way business is done these days."  These payouts are frequently given for positive performance of a company, however, M&I stock lost over 80% of its value in the past few years.  Jim Seward, an associate professor at UW-Madison sympathizes with shareholders, but also states, "…there's a lot who lost 100%."  

Well, I guess that makes it OK.  I'll remember that when people criticize public education and things like the achievement gap between African-American students and other groups.  As long as we don't have 100% of our students in a group failing, we should get bonuses.

I can't help but be offended by this logic.  I, along with my public employee compatriots, are blamed for our state's budget crisis while corporate America continues with business as usual.  Another professor from UW-Whitewater states, "If the bank had been successful, Mark Furlong probably would have gotten even more."  This is the model of business that we want for Wisconsin?  If we are open for this type of business we will be closed to democracy forever.  A democratic state can't exist with such unequal distribution of wealth. 

**A letter to the editor talked about the indirect costs of unions to the public.  The author talked about the fact that, "For state taxpayers, the cost of recounts, recall elections, Capitol cleaning and lawn care, security overtime, disruption of productive legislative time, legal challenges, sweetheart health insurance deals with WEAC insurers and more." 

Where to begin?  Recounts and recalls were caused by the actions of the Republicans and the distrust they have created in our political system.  Republicans have also increased the costs of the recalls by running fake candidates.  The capitol cleaning was exaggerated exponentially.  "Productive" time in this legislature?  The front page of the paper talked about how competition between two insurance companies in Madison was actually increasing costs for everyone, how do these costs compare to the ones passed on to the public from public employee insurance plans? 

**Finally, on the "Sunday Opinion" page the editorial staff juxtaposed an article about Walker and state Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers working on a plan to monitor progress in schools with an article from 1854.  The 1854 article talked about a proud day in Wisconsin when thousands came together to voice their opposition to the efforts to expand slavery by repealing the Missouri Compromise.  The article talks about how "We want cool-headed, sincere, straight forward, frank, honest men who are not afraid to take a manly and independent course, and are ready to leave the old parties, and to unite upon the great issue of the day."  Clearly the WSJ would like us to think that Walker and Evers represent those ideals.  I won't speak about Evers, but the idea that Walker has demonstrated any of these qualities is questionable at best. 

Of course the article uses "men" and "manly" and this is to be expected in an article from the 1850's.  However, it is interesting that 5 of the 6 Democrats challenging Republicans in the recalls are women.  No real point to this comment, just something I noticed. Female readers may want to highlight this. 

One last thought brought up by the 1854 article was the connection between the gathering of citizens in Madison then and the protests now.  Recognizing the differences in issues, I'm not equating the horrors of slavery with the current restrictions on union rights, the correlation is still apparent.  I quote from the article, "…yesterday thousands were convened -men of all parties- natives of the old world and the new, their former political proclivities and prejudices melted down and merged in the one great idea that the liberties of the nation are threatened with destruction…there must be a union of all true men, and true friends of the Union to restore to Freedom what has been lost by the perfidy of those into whose hands her interests have been entrusted."  Sound familiar to anyone?

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