For the record on photo ID

Everyone with experience in Wisconsin politics knows that the long-overdue passage of a voter identification law means Democrats will spend the next eighteen months trying to make this defense of honest elections look like an act of tyranny.

So it’s important to spell out a few things that might be lost in the fog of lies, distortions and hallucinations. When somebody starts jabbering about “voter intimidation” and “Jim Crow” and Republicans “cutting off debate,” remember this:

  • Not counting Wisconsin, the Wall Street Journal reports 28 states either have a photo ID law or require voters to show some identification and can request a photo ID. Drop us a line if you hear about any of their legislative leaders wailing that they’ve returned to the pre-civil rights South.
  • By special rule, Senate Republicans limited debate on final passage to one hour last Thursday, leading to predictable screams about muzzling debate. Democrats somehow forgot they had debated the bill for NINE HOURS just the day before, which they used to elevate the discussion with their malicious tirade about racism and voter intimidation.
  •  Far from going out of its way to suppress voter participation, the new law goes out of its way to accommodate voters, for instance, allowing the use of student IDs as a substitute for a driver’s license.

If there’s anything wrong with the photo I-D law, it’s that it’s not even tougher.


The full-court press

Tuesday May 31st marks the deadline for JoAnne Kloppenburg and her handlers to declare whether they’ll mount a legal challenge to the state Supreme Court recount.

Expect them go to court, and expect them to wait every minute of their five day window before announcing it.

At about four p.m. Tuesday Kloppenburg will mouth some cynical nonsense about how carefully she reflected on her decision to try to overturn an election that’s been counted, recounted and verified, and how she takes no enjoyment in this but it’s her responsibility to the people, blah, blah, blah.

From the moment this election went from a 200-vote margin Kloppenburg said was rock solid to a 7,000-vote margin she said was too thin to trust, it’s been painfully obvious where things were headed.

Last Friday, campaign manager Mulliken issued a statement saying the recount revealed “numerous anomalies and irregularities. Vote tallies have changed in every county.”

Anybody who’s been part of more than one recount understands it’s a non-story that vote tallies changed in every county. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if vote tallies changed by one or two in every precinct.  The net result was to reduce Prosser’s margin of victory by four tenths of one percent.

And here’s what the Government Accountability Board—no nest of right-wingers—said last week about the kind of “anomalies and irregularities” the Kloppenburglars are planning to sue over:

  • Even if the container or bag is somehow opened later, or if the chain of custody is broken, election officials have the original print-out tape from the machine, as well as the electronic memory device from the machine. This enables election officials to determine the election night vote count.
  • Typically in a recount, there are minor differences due to ballot marking errors by voters or issues encountered with the optical scanners. 
  • G.A.B. staff has created an internal review process to check each ward’s recount totals against the original canvass totals to look for variances of plus or minus 10 votes.  Any ward in which 10 more or 10 fewer votes are reported is flagged by staff for follow-up with the county clerk for an explanation of the reason.  So far, we have found no significant, unexplained variances of vote totals.  Staff will continue to review Waukesha County’s results as they come in each day until the recount is complete.

  The upside?  The Left is teaching us a lesson we’ll never forget.

Blow off work, get a bonus

We can always count on Madison to blaze new trails when it comes to screwing over taxpayers. Last week Madison school board member Ed Hughes took note of the fact that the school district saved more than a million dollars in docked pay in February, when about 40 percent of its teachers staged an illegal walkout to protest at the Capitol.

So…apply that money to the next budget and maybe avoid some teacher layoffs? Use it to chip away at the district’s debt? Naaah! Mr. Hughes’ idea was to give a $200 gift card to every one of the district’s 4,000 employees, plus another $60 to cover the associated income tax liability. People who walked off the job would get a bonus payment.

Mr. Hughes, who has since withdrawn the proposal, derided those who questioned his idea, saying they had obviously never run a business and didn’t know anything about what it takes to maintain employee good will. We think one way of maintaining employee good will is to treat the people who do their work better than the ones who blow it off and lie about the reason, showing up after the fact with a fraudulent medical excuse.

Guess we’re just old-fashioned, and not very progressive.

Time on their hands

During 2010, employees of the State of Wisconsin and the UW system worked almost 1.9 million hours of overtime, for which they were typically paid time-and-a-half.  According to a report by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, overtime payments totaled more than $360 million from 2006 through 2010.

Last year, overtime payments totaled the equivalent of having an additional 900 full-time employees, according to the Audit Bureau findings, and in many cases overtime payments exceeded what’s required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Why would that be? The Audit Bureau says it’s because of collective bargaining privileges where are about to be curtailed for most state employees. Of course if you’re a unionized government employee or the mainstream media, they aren’t privileges but rather “rights” that are being “stripped away.”

What’s becoming more and more apparent is that taxpayers have been routinely stripped of the right to their own earnings. The reforms that have union activists in the streets and breaking up sessions of the Legislature would do nothing more than restore a little bit of the balance that’s been steadily eroded since state government decided to buy labor peace with other people’s money.

ID in Sight

After November’s elections, we recommended photo ID for Wisconsin voters be the first bill introduced. We still wish it had been, but are glad to see last week’s 60-35 Assembly vote passing the bill and sending it to the Senate.

The measure has of course met with the usual accusations.  State Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate alleged Republicans were on a “march toward voter suppression,” and were preparing to interfere with voting by not only “seniors, students and African-Americans,” but also active-duty military personnel serving in war zones.

The Democrats’ Supreme Genius evidently hasn’t caught up with the fact that military voters, and, increasingly, the elderly—tend to favor Republicans.   At the same time, he may have tipped his hand by calling the measure a “poll tax.” The charge is completely bogus but sure to be the centerpiece of any litigation seeking to overturn it.

Craftier Democrats raised the objection that getting a driver’s license is going to be more complicated because of federal anti-terrorism laws, but Representative Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) pointed out that the driver’s license changes are happening with or without photo id.

Savor the irony: Democrats in the Legislature say there’s no such thing as voter fraud in Wisconsin, ignoring numerous individuals imprisoned for manufacturing false registrations. Simultaneously, Democrats maneuvering to deadlock the state Supreme Court find signs of skullduggery in vote counts that were reported on election night, went unaltered in the official canvass, and have been validated in a hand recount.
So which way is it, guys?

Stubborn facts, at your service

Do public employees really accept lesser compensation in exchange for job security, as it’s often argued? Do people give up a lot to go into public education just because they love teaching the children? Thanks to the MacIver Institute, the average citizen has a much better chance of finding straight answers to those questions.
The MacIver-operated web site has just posted 2011 salary and benefit data for more than 105,000 public school teachers and administrators. With the addition of the current-year numbers, the site now has a continuous, 17-year record of compensation data for every K-12 school district in Wisconsin.
MacIver president Brett Healy announced the newly-posted information said:

  • 11,469 Wisconsin public school employees will take home more than $100,000 in pay and benefits this year.
  • Overall compensation increased to $6.15 billion this year, compared with $5.97 billion in 2010.
  • The superintendent of the disastrous Milwaukee Public Schools is the state’s highest-paid school official. Gregory Thornton is receiving $265,000 in salary and another $77,398 in fringe benefits.
  • Ranking number two, Madison superintendent Dan Nerad—the man who couldn’t bring himself to do anything serious about 84 of his employees falsely claiming illness so they could blow off work to protest at the Capitol—gets a $201,438 salary and $58,034 in fringe benefits.

In addition to K-12 school employees, the web site has salary and benefit information for tens of thousands of state, county and municipal employees. All of the information is public record and lawfully available to anyone, though Healy notes that some municipalities are more forthcoming than others.

Still broke

New revenue estimates from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau are indisputably good news.  The number crunchers expect state tax collections through the end of the 2012 fiscal year will be more than $600 million ahead of prior projections.
To keep things in perspective, that is only 1.6 percent of the total anticipated revenue collections. But it means a smaller hole to climb out of as state finances are put in order.
Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Robin Vos (R-Rochester) summed up the attitude of any prudent adult dealing with an overextended household budget.

“The Doyle administration left us with large bills like the patient compensation fund and the Minnesota tax reciprocity and we intend to pay those off,” they said in a joint statement.  “As we develop the state’s spending plan, we will continue to have taxpayer interests in mind and make sound fiscal decisions.”  
Remember, the Patients’ Compensation Fund has to be reimbursed for more than $200 million, and the debt to Minnesota is several tens of millions and gathering interest every day.
And speaking of prudent adults, we wonder if there are any on the Democratic side of the aisle. Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) obtusely concluded that the state is now flush with money.
“Contrary to the Governor and Republicans rhetoric it appears we are not broke after all,” Miller said. “There are no more excuses for their budget proposals targeting education, health care services for women, children and seniors, critical community services like police and fire protection and tax savings for working families for unfair budget cuts.”
Not broke except for the remaining $3 billion hole.