Friday, July 29, 2011

Issue #15- 48th Assembly District and Union Saving

Issue #15- July 29, Whither go the unions or wither go the unions?

While most of this issue will be devoted to looking at what is happening to unions in Wisconsin and where to go from here I was asked to provide more information about the race in Assembly District 48.  While there shouldn't be much of a race, the information I found about the Republican candidate was too much fun not to spend some time sharing.  I can't count how many times I've commented on the absolutely ludicrous nature of what we are facing here in Wisconsin.  If this wasn't actually happening it would make a great satire.  The race in the 48th continues this pattern.

Assembly District 48
Spencer Zimmerman (R) vs.
Chris Taylor (D)

Spencer Zimmerman has run for several offices in Wisconsin, losing each time.  He last ran for Dane County Executive in the spring of 2011.  During this campaign he didn't participate in any forums, raised no money and didn't respond to interview requests.  He did complete one survey and said he was against taxes and favored abolishing the County Executive position.  County GOP chair Mike Herl stated, "Nice guy.  As for knowing him personally, I don't know him."

A little more checking found that he is also running for state senate in Nebraska.  He is a former member of the Air Force and was stationed in Omaha for a time, though he lives and works in Madison.  He is running in part on a platform to make the legislature a unicameral system.

He currently has raised $400 for his Assembly campaign.  Of these donations $200 comes from him personally with one other donation from a chiropractic group. 

Chris Taylor won a difficult primary against several other qualified candidates.  A check of websites and social networks shows that she is actively participating in recall efforts supporting Democrats.  She was the public policy director for Planned Parenthood.  She has the support of key Madison political figures and state Democratic leaders. 

Who is the more qualified candidate?  Please remember to vote if you live in the 48th.  Low turnout is the only way Zimmerman can compete with Taylor.  He has had some close losses in local races, primarily due to low numbers voting in off years. 

Whither (to what place) or
Wither (fade, decay, shrivel)
the Unions
With the passing of the Budget Repair Bill all of us who are represented by public sector unions are wondering, what will happen now?  A brief review of what the BRB (SB-11) does:

This bill limits the right to collectively bargain for all employees who are not public safety employees (general employees) to the subject of base wages. In addition, unless a referendum authorizes a greater increase, any
general employee who is part of a collective bargaining unit is limited to bargaining over a percentage of total base wages increase that is no greater than the percentage change in the consumer price index.

This bill requires an annual certification election of the labor organization that represents each collective bargaining unit containing general employees. If, at the election, less than 51 percent of the actual employees in the collective bargaining unit vote for a representative, then, at the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, the current representative is decertified and the members of the collective bargaining unit are nonrepresented and may not be represented for one year. This bill requires an initial certification election for all represented state and municipal general employees in April 2011.

This bill limits the term for general employees to one year and prohibits the extension of collective bargaining agreements.

Except for salary deductions for public safety employees, this bill prohibits the salary deductions for labor organization dues. This bill also allows a general employee to refrain from paying dues and remain a member of a collective bargaining unit.

Why Break Up Unions?
The reason behind this legislation is clear.  It has been shown that SB-11 is not about fiscal responsibility.  It is all about breaking up the unions and destroying another base of support for the Democratic Party.  Combined with "reform" of voter registration, redistricting, the Citizen's United ruling and other Republican efforts the electoral process in our state (and country) is being stolen.  Republican candidates and talking heads are pulling out all the stops to vilify unions.  Clearly breaking the unions is a big part of their plan to consolidate their power.    

Are Unions Still Relevant?
Some would argue that the unions are no longer necessary.  One message board had this statement, "Unions have outlived their usefulness, back in the old days when REAL abuse was rampant they were necessary…"  The implication is that now things are great.  Of course we all know that this isn't the case.  No matter where you work and how good things are at the moment we all need some support and protection.  This is especially true as the climate in Wisconsin changes and becomes more management friendly. 

Union membership has declined significantly in the past 30 years.  Estimates put the number of union members at about 12.4% in 2007.  This includes public and private sector unions.  It has been shown quite clearly that as membership has declined, wages and other benefits have followed for all workers (not just union members).

To fully answer the question, just think about what your workplace would be like without the efforts of unions over time.  Then think about what it will look like in the future without unions fighting to protect our rights.
Why should we protect our unions?  What do they provide for us?
*Legal support and protection
*More power in the workplace
*Personal and Professional support
*Safety Nets
*Information and resources
*Stability and consistency
*Community and Unity

I can think of many examples of how MTI has supported me and given me a sense of being part of a bigger whole.  However, not all unions are as strong as MTI.  Some districts and unions didn't have contracts in place when SB-11 took effect and are therefore already operating under its provisions.  Also there are divisions within all unions that will be widened by the stresses caused by the loss of income and loss of workplace rights.  It is important that these issues are addressed or they will be the final nail in the coffin that buries the union movement.  For MTI the differences between the different bargaining units, between classroom and specials/support teachers and difference between different levels (elementary, middle, high) are potential causes for divisions in the collective whole.

The simple reality is that many people will be pro or con regarding unions based on financial realities.  The same message board quoted earlier had a posting, "The union is good because at the moment the contract is pretty good."  That's exactly what the Republicans are counting on.  After SB-11 takes full effect contracts won't be good and therefore unions will lose membership.  Combined with the fact that dues won't be automatically deducted and recertification elections must take place annually, you can see the writing on the wall for our unions.

No one can argue that unions are perfect institutions.  Like all organizations they have flaws and these flaws will be exploited by the conservatives.  The flaws, divisions and financial costs will challenge the survival of public sector unions. 

How Can Unions Be Saved?
How can we counter this?  Think about your own workplace and the people who work there.  In my school there are many different perspectives on unions ranging from avid supporters to anti-union feelings.  In many cases the support of the union is based on personal and immediate needs. (What have you done for me lately?)  What will make the union stay alive and strong in your building/district.etc.?  Change is often scary, frequently difficult, but always necessary.  Unions will need increased flexibility to survive the attacks by the Walker administration.  Here are a few ideas that could provide ways to maintain union membership and even increase participation.

First, unions must make it clear to the workers they represent that they still have power.  In order to do this they must be visible in the recall efforts and in future elections.  Employees who recognize the impact that unions can have will support them.   During this time of crisis unions must carefully choose their battles and pick fights that they have a chance of winning.  They must clearly identify their purpose and fight hard to defend what they truly value.  People support a winner.  Unions must publicize their efforts and successes.   

Second, union members must reach out to each other and build personal relationships to keep the membership engaged and united.    The strength of unions is in their ability to connect people and provide strength and support in a collective whole.  Unions are the people and need to build on this strength.  Excessive bureaucracy and red tape only pushes people away from organizations.  These are times for unions to look at the way they do business and make changes.

Unions are the epitome of democracy in action.  They can't be imposed from the top down.  Just as we've learned that you can't simply declare a country to be a democracy (there are a few historical examples here), the same holds true in creating and/or maintaining a union.  Many union members are (re)discovering their belief in union values at the same time these values are under attack.

Third, while it may seem counterintuitive during this time of crisis, unions need to look for ways to expand their influence and cooperate within the labor movement.   Within each bargaining unit there are groups which feel underrepresented and even disenfranchised.  Unions need to reach out to these groups and gain their trust and support.  Just as individuals gain strength in numbers, unions can also benefit from association with other groups who share goals and interests.  Unions have sometimes competed with each other for membership and influence, but now isn't the time for infighting in the labor ranks. 

Fourth, unions need to educate their members.  Workers need to see where their unions came from, why they were created and what influence they have had in creating current working conditions.  If union members only know the present situation they won't realize how important unions have been in the history of America.  Learning about your history can be a source of strength and pride.  Many younger employees don't haven't experienced the conditions that lead to the formation of unions.

Finally they must provide services and activities that are needed by members.  Things like legal advice, financial relief and social outings among others, can remind members that unions care about their members.  The sense of support, common purpose and community are the driving forces in the formation of unions.  This sense of togetherness highlights on of  the major differences between Liberal and Conservative philosophy.  Conservative philosophy centers around the individual while the Liberal line of thinking looks more to people within communities.  The union slogan, "An injury to one is an injury to all", is a clear example of the differences between the philosophies. 

All of these efforts rely on a strong base of caring and committed union members.  These members must be willing to sacrifice and work hard to provide examples to other employees and build support for the union.     

These are a few general ideas that can help save unions.  I will look at them more closely and provide examples in future issues.   

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Issue #14 Recall Race Updates

What This Is…
Issue #14- July 26, 2011  Updates in the Senate Races.  Two weeks to Recall!!

We are two weeks away from one of the biggest election days in Wisconsin history.  Am I exaggerating?  I don't believe so.  Just look at what has happened over the past 5+ months here in Wisconsin.  The changes in the way we do politics have been staggering.  From the midnight passing of bills and sudden committee meetings to the change in the redistricting procedures, we have been subjected to a blitz of legislation.  All of this done in the name of a crisis of dubious nature. 

Our system of government is based in great measure on the separation of power into multiple hands.  With the current regime we have lost this protection and the results are clear.  There is no way to "derail" any of the proposals that Governor Walker wants to force on us.  The typical citizen is left with few "tools" to exert their influence on government and is left "standing with" their back to the wall.  The loss of income, safety and services that result from our Governors actions will be felt for many years to come, unless a roadblock can be put in his path.  That roadblock can be the Wisconsin Senate.

In order for the balance of power to be restored the recall of the six Republican Senators needs to be successful.  I've already shared ways to get involved in the recall efforts several times and encourage everyone to participate.  I also wanted to take a brief moment and share a few details from each of the six districts that will be voting on August 9th.  I'm focusing on issues regarding the Republican Senators, more information about the Democrat candidates will follow.  The information shared below demonstrates just how vital it is to recall these Republican Senators and retain the Democrats in office.    

Finding good information about the recalls is challenging.  Of course there are many websites that provide "facts" about the races.  However, because of their nature most of these sites are significantly biased.  In order to get at the core if the issues you need to be a careful reader.  This is a skill that is taught in our schools and further developed over years.  Another example of the value of education.    
However, it is very educational to read the websites, social network pages and other sources for information about the candidates.  I find it terrifying to read some of the postings on the Republican pages, especially when I think that some of the people they are voicing anger at are people exactly like me.  I wonder, when did I become the enemy of all that is American?

This map has been presented before, but gives a good idea of the location of the different districts holding recall elections. I've added maps of each district along with the information so that you can (hopefully) see the geography of each Senate District.

August 9th  
District 2
Robert Cowles (R) vs.
Nancy Nusbaum (D)

Latest Poll Data: Unavailable

Robert Cowles has been a senator since 1987.  He serves as the chair of the Energy, Biotechnology and Consumer Protection Committee among others.  Ironically he sponsored a bill in February recognizing February 4th as "Wear Red Day" (in honor of American Heart Month).  Given that red is now the adopted color of the protestors he should have moved that day a few weeks later.

His district has been solidly Republican and he hasn't faced serious opposition in several election cycles.  He has received over 90% of the vote in the past two elections.   Out of touch?  He recently said on his website, "The last year has revealed a strong and growing economy.  However, there is no reason for state government to grow larger at the same time."  He also called the $800 million in cuts to education a "fable".

District 8
Alberta Darling (R) vs.
Sandra Pasch (D)

Latest Poll Data: Pasch 47  Darling 46

Alberta Darling has been a senator since 1993.  She is the co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee as well as a member of several other committees.  She has been a strong supporter of Gov. Walker's policies.  Sen. Darling is one of the sponsors of SB-22, a bill that advocates for charter schools.  A few quotes from her;

"We are not trying to ram things through"
"Laid off Milwaukee Teachers have only their union to blame."

District 10
Sheila Harsdorf (R) vs.
Shelly Moore (D)

Latest Poll Data: Moore 45  Harsdorf 50

Sheila Harsdorf has been equally supportive of Walker and critical of efforts to counter his agenda.  She says, "Union bosses don't run government, people do."  She joins other Republicans in singling out public workers by stating that a key to reforming government is "making government employees contribute to benefits" this will "put taxpayers first". 

She has made some interesting claims about her opponent's financial status.  Harsdorf claims that, "National special interests are seeking to overturn election results."  She puts statistics that Shelly Moore has gotten more contributions from outside Wisconsin than inside.  Looking closer at the numbers shows that while this is true, the amount of money coming from Wisconsin is 3 times more than out of state donations.  Moore has raised $212,000 to date.  Of this amount $156,000 is from Wisconsin citizens.  It's also interesting to note that Moore averages $22 per donation while Harsdorf's average donation is $108.  The numbers also don't take into account Harsdorf's existing campaign balances, while Moore has had to raise all her money in recent months. 

District 14
Luther Olson (R) vs.
Fred Clark (D)

Latest Poll Data: Clark 45  Olson 43
Of note is the fact that Clark is up 49-41 in polling of voters who cast a ballot in the Supreme Court election this past April.  Fred Clark was also one of the Assembly Members who brought their desks outside of the capital building while access was limited by DOA restrictions.

They will be interviewed by Ben Merens at 4 PM on WPR on July 28th.

Luther Olson is the chair of the Education Committee and is also a sponsor of SB-22.  In February he expressed reservations about taking away bargaining rights for employees.  "It affects a lot of good working people," he said.  However, that didn't stop him from voting with his party to pass the Budget "Repair" Bill. 

District 18
Randy Hopper (R) vs.
Jessica King (D)

Latest Poll Data: King 50   Hopper 47

Interviewed by Ben Merens at 4 PM on WPR on July 27th.

Randy Hopper is a member of several senate committees including Finance and Energy, Biotechnology and Consumer Protection.  He also has tried to influence voters by claiming that his opponent is funded by outside interests.  "These people who reside out of state and out of country can't vote, leaving their only option to buy the senate seat for Jessica King."  Of course he is a person of the people with a strong sense of ethics…oh wait, his campaign is running an ad that is off the charts lying (regarding King's voting record).  Hopper is also the subject of a number of ethics complaints, so much for his clean image. 

District 32
Dan Kapanke (R) vs.
Jennifer Shilling (D)

Latest Poll Data: Shilling 56   Kapanke 42

Dan Kapanke is famous for his "broken" windshield during the February protests.  He cited the danger to him as a reason to avoid public appearances and lack of accessibility.  His seat is one of the most vulnerable to recall and he has gone so far as to state, "We've got tons of government workers (in his district)…We gotta hope that they, kind of, are sleeping on July 12th or whenever the election date is."  He also spoke to one of the core issues regarding Republican control of the Senate, "If they gain control of the senate, it might be over for us, because redistricting will play a role, as you know, and we will lose that power."

Assembly District 48
Spencer Zimmerman (R) vs.
Chris Taylor (D)
Don't forget to vote if you live in this Assembly District.

August 16th
District 12
Kim Simac (R) vs.
Jim Holperin (D)
Kim Simac seems to be basing much of her campaign on the fact that Holperin is one of the Wisconsin 14.  She states that she will not run away and will make tough decisions.  Most of her campaign material draws straight from the typical Republican rhetoric.  She is a Tea Party activist who called the protesters "mutinous cowards" and stated that corporations are "this fundamental cornerstone of America…"

District 22
Jonathon Steitz (R) vs.
Robert Wirch (D)

Interviewed by Ben Merens at 4 PM on WPR on July 26th.

Jonathon Stietz announced his candidacy before a "packed" room  of over 100.  He is running on the platform of lower taxes and less government that is so popular with the current Republicans.  As campaign slogans these sound fine, it's the way that they are put into practice that doesn't provide for the "general welfare" of all citizens. He and his supporters are also critical of Wirch's actions in February and claim that Wirch is controlled by union bosses.    

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Issue #13- Victory, participation opportunities, and some untruths (and Bluths)

What This Is…
Issue #13- July 21, 2011  Several victories, What can I do?, and a few Walker lies.

Of course the biggest news this week is the huge win for Sen. Hansen on Tuesday.  This keeps his district's Senate seat in Democratic hands and builds momentum for the August 9th recall elections.  A margin of 2:1 showed the strong support voters have for Hansen's actions that support working families in Wisconsin.  One election in the books, 8 more to go.

A smaller victory, but a very satisfying one for Madison teachers was the official announcement of an agreement between MTI and MMSD regarding teacher planning time.  After the school district proposed new start and stop times for teachers, with accompanying loss of the use of Monday release time for planning, hundreds of teachers mobilized and spoke out at a school board meeting.  The board listened and as a result a more satisfactory agreement was reached.  This was even more of a victory for all parties given the current political climate.  The disagreement over planning time could easily have escalated to a very unpleasant level, but this didn't happen.  That seems to speak well for the near future as district employees and administration work to try and cooperate while being faced with huge cuts to funding from the state. 

Of course Madison is just one of over 400 public school districts in Wisconsin that are faced with the challenges created by our governor.  Many of these districts are facing huge challenges both financially and in terms of the support they have for their labor struggles.  Once again, information is our greatest ally as we try to overcome the divisive politics the Republicans are using.  Our other strength lies in the number of supporters and their passion for the cause.  Just stop in at the Labor Temple, go canvassing or go to a rally and see the positive energy in the people there.  We need to use all the "tools" we have to support our fellow workers across the state.

As an educator I'm used to struggling to make small gains.  Progress for my students is rarely linear, and frequently seems to be inconsistent.  However, my students and I show up every school day with the intent on learning and growing together.  That's how I am approaching this political battle as well.  There will be successes and failures, but in the long run we will emerge stronger and better equipped to succeed in the future.

But, what can I do?…
While we can certainly take a moment and savor our victories there is still a long road ahead of us.  August 9th is the next big day coming up and the success of our efforts will be equal to the amount of effort we all put in to the campaign.  What that effort looks like is entirely up to each individual.  No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.  Think about your strengths and look for ways to use them in the recall efforts.  Just as we try and utilize a student's strengths to help them learn, we can use our own skills and expertise effectively to make a difference.  Try something new and challenge yourself, you will find the effort rewarding.  I know that I've found myself doing things I'd never dreamed I would do as a result of my strong reactions to Walker's policies.

Along with the continuing canvassing and phone banking we all need to continue to communicate the truth about Walker's policies.  Sharing information with friends and family is very important.  Think of it as though you are throwing a rock into a pool, the information you share is then shared by others and so forth.  Eventually it will reach an undecided independent voter who will then (hopefully) make a more informed decision on election day.  The power of hearing the truth from a trusted person can not be underestimated.

For those of us in education, summer is a time where we have more flexibility in scheduling.  Use this time to find local businesses that support worker's rights.  It's also a good time to research products and develop buying habits that will carry through to the school year.  Funneling money into worker friendly businesses and products and helps all of us.
Political Action and Protest Opportunities…

"Arrested Development" fans will
recognize Lindsay in her "Neuter Fest"
garb.  If you haven't seen the show,
you are missing some really funny
stuff. If the Bluth family can participate in social activism, so can all of us.

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

-Join MTI any and every Thursday at the Labor Temple for phone banking and also consider canvassing on Sundays.  Phone bank opportunities are available every day of the week as well. 

Let's work to keep the pressure on the Republican senators and support our Democrats who are under attack!

Thursday July 28th Walker will be in Fort Atkinson @ 5:30 to help open Opportunities, Inc. new building at 200 Cramer St.  Feel free to show up and share your thoughts with him.

-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.

With the joy of Hansen's victory comes the continuing frustration with the total disregard for the truth from the Walker administration.  Every time I hear about one of the blatant lies and fabrications that are presented to the public I'm reminded of how important it is to keep people informed.  If all a person's information comes from mainstream media, the image of the fight for worker's rights is greatly distorted.    

Need a couple of examples of misleading information from recent days?  Here are just a few to add to our already lengthy list:

Lies about the "tools" available to school districts.

Anything to win an election, even if it harms the state.

Let's see, violating established protocol, setting it up for a Republican majority in the legislature for the next decade, sounds "fair".

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?