Blue fist Fallone

Chances are we don’t need to sound another warning about next Tuesday’s elections, but when the stakes are high, it’s prudent to do everything you need to do, and a little more.

So take no chances on an ambush in Tuesday’s state Supreme Court election. Aside from conservative talk radio, it’s been the usual low-profile affair. As far as we can tell, the so-called mainstream media think Justice Pat Roggensack weakens her case for re-election by declining to trash fellow members of the court, and that’s about it.

Meanwhile, the foaming-at-the-mouth Left is quietly mobilizing its considerable forces on behalf of Roggensack’s opponent, law professor Ed Fallone.

If ever there was any hint of uncertainty as to why Fallone wants to be on the court, it was erased last week by a postcard from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO showing a smiling Ed Fallone and a big, blue fist. Fallone is running for precisely the reason that should automatically disqualify any judicial candidate anywhere: He’s committed to prejudge cases and invent reasons for the result he wants, in this instance, to overturn Governor Walker’s collective bargaining reforms.

Joanne Kloppenburg ran on that basis in 2011 and gave the rule of law a brush with death. Fallone is Kloppenburg 2.0.

Tuesday’s Supreme Court balloting is just one more battle in the Left’s eternal war against the lawful actions of the governor and legislature Wisconsin voters decisively elected in 2010. The Left will never, ever, stop trying to undo those actions and the rest of us can never afford to stop defending them.

In any competitive environment, doing things you might be tempted to neglect is what separates consistent winners from those who occasionally win by coincidence. Vote on Tuesday. Don’t leave the rule of law in Wisconsin to coincidence.


Chicago wannabes

Speaking of Tuesday’s Supreme Court election, we can’t rule it out as one of the reasons Milwaukee school board members didn’t immediately cave in to the teachers’ union last week.

The union wants to reopen contract negotiations with the intention of, at minimum, extending the existing agreement and prolonging the delay in Milwaukee Public Schools implementing the Act 10 collective bargaining reforms. Alert school board members might have realized it wouldn’t do to rouse up the taxpayers by saying yes to the union before the election—with its Act 10 implications—is out of the way.

And while that issue ripens, the big city a little farther down the lake is offering Milwaukee teachers an opportunity to learn something. Our guess is it’s an opportunity few of the teachers and none of their union bosses will take.

In Chicago, dwindling enrollments, unsustainable benefit packages and bloated public payrolls—the kinds of things Milwaukee teachers are fighting to retain—are driving events to their inevitable conclusion and mass school closings are one result. Illinois, farther down the same road Wisconsin was traveling pre-Act 10, is simply falling apart.

We’d like to be consistent in rejecting the concept of a paternalistic state, but that’s contingent on the citizens behaving like grown-ups. It’s a little disheartening when the unions, and especially the teachers, prove over and over again that they’re in need of adult supervision.

The biggest big lie ever

We’ve often said that if you control people’s energy use, you control their lives, period. This insight is not lost on the aspiring totalitarians of the Obama administration, now ratcheting up their global warming propaganda after 16 years of no statistically meaningful rise in  global temperature.

Last Friday, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) rolled out nine pages of recommendations that show these “advisers” are ready to say anything to panic people into accepting higher taxes, more government, and less freedom.

They cite “extreme weather events” to justify urgent action, ignoring the array of peer-reviewed studies that find no evidence of warmer temperatures causing more hurricanes or tornadoes, no increase in the severity of drought compared with prior episodes, no temperature increase outside the range of natural variability, nor even any correlation between  increasing CO2 and temperature trends.

They also cite a carbon tax as an “excellent” way to “decarbonize” the U.S. economy, and bigger, longer-lasting subsidies to steer us all toward wind-and-solar nirvana. To see how well that works, check how things are going in England, where they’re struggling with a winter that won’t end.

One unequivocally true PCAST statement is that “the climate is already changing and some further change is inevitable regardless of what is done to reduce its pace and magnitude.” Nothing could more starkly illuminate government’s perversion of science than this:  the recognition of an ever-changing climate and the futility of regulating it, twisted into a rationale for regulating the climate.

Who asked the union?

If there’s any need to explain the declining popularity of labor unions, the United Steelworkers served up a nice demonstration this past week.

Steelworkers Local 1343 asked Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) to eliminate training for welders who might end up being hired as replacement workers by Caterpillar Corporation if the union goes on strike, rather than agreeing to a new contract in negotiations next month.

There’s plenty wrong here, most obviously the idea of any union presuming to tell an educational institution funded by public tax dollars who and what it should teach, based on the union’s private financial interests.

A secondary concern is the MATC faculty union siding with the Steelworkers. Let some entity other than a union suggest the college reconsider any of its educational offerings, and listen for the howls of outrage over “academic freedom” from that very same faculty union. It’s even more disturbing that the faculty union’s position is conveyed by an instructor in economics. We’re guessing free market principles don’t get much respect in his classroom.

A third and admittedly lesser concern is that MATC feels the need to explain and justify its actions. The institution exists to prepare all sdudents for successful employment in whatever areas it offers training. It most emphatically does not exist for the purpose of rationing supplies of qualified workers so as to strengthen the bargaining position of a labor organization.

With the prospect that mining will be revitalized in Wisconsin, the Steelworkers no doubt sense the opportunity to extract a juicy contract from Caterpillar, and it’s their perfect right to drive as hard a bargain as the company will stand for. It’s not their right to commandeer publicly-funded institutions for leverage.

Want to get in the game?

GoForwardCapitalLogoEven with a two-house legislative majority, there is no assurance that the budget Governor Walker signs into law will contain everything he put into the bill introduced last month.  No governor ever gets to enact precisely the budget he’s proposed.

To help make sure good ideas don’t fall by the wayside as the budget takes shape, Wisconsin Club for Growth (WICFG) has launched a new website highlighting key budget initiatives.  Included is the opportunity to email and call legislators in support of the budget.

Governor Walker’s proposed budget for the coming biennium continues on the path of fiscal realism and common sense reforms that made the current (2011-13) budget a success, turning a recurring, multi-billion dollar deficit into an anticipated surplus of nearly half a billion dollars.

The 2013-15 Walker budget aims at healthcare and education reforms, new investments in worker training, a middle-income tax cut and other changes to the tax and regulatory environment to help grow jobs and reduce Wisconsin’s unemployment rate.

The first step toward getting involved is to follow this link:  There, you’ll find background material on budget issues and easily-accessible information identifying the lawmakers who represent your area, so you can make your views known.

WICFG has made a commitment to broadly share the facts about this budget.  Take advantage of the information links provided, give some thought to the opportunities to put Wisconsin even more solidly on the right track, and call or email your legislators today.

Tell them support Governor Walker’s plan to keep moving Wisconsin Forward.

Water diversion

We suppose perverse credit is due for the ingenuity of local government officials finding ways to get more money to spend.

A report from the Public Service Commission (PSC) reveals that statewide, nearly 15 percent of the money paid by homeowners and businesses on routine water bills isn’t used for anything remotely related to producing, treating or delivering water. It’s diverted into general fund accounts to support all manner of local spending.

The most dramatic instance occurs—SURPRISE!—in Milwaukee, where the water utility this year will channel more than $12 million into the general fund for non-water related spending at the same time that it seeks a three percent rate increase because it can’t afford to repair and replace decrepit water mains.  Credit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for digging this up:

In the PSC’s report released publicly last month, regulators found municipal water utilities made a total of $87.4 million in payments in 2010. This figure represented 14.9% of total municipal water utility rate revenue that year — nearly $15 of every $100 collected.

The total grew to $92.9 million in 2011, but the overall percentage of revenue requirements remained about the same, at 14.8%, the report said.

As usual, the excuse, in Milwaukee and statewide, is the familiar refrain about the state (meaning, ultimately, you,) not giving local governments enough shared revenue to supplement property taxes.  So sad.

The PSC notes that grabbing water utility revenues for who-knows-what is now a significant revenue stream for municipalities and it isn’t illegal.  In fact, it’s consistent with fund raids at the state level during the Doyle years, when gas tax revenue that was supposed to pay for roads and bridges got siphoned off for other state spending.  Thankfully the Legislature has advanced a constitutional amendment for the November 2014 ballot to put an end to that.

Raising one tax to make another seem less painful is a standard and popular tactic, but it keeps people in the dark about what they’re paying for.

A Tale of Two School Systems

Amid legislative hand-wringing over the proposed expansion of Wisconsin’s school choice program comes an illustration of why choice is eagerly embraced by families who have access to it, and why it’s so badly needed by so many more.

Last week, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and allied groups attracted adverse attention for injecting atonement for “white privilege” into the classroom routine. If the term is unfamiliar, white privilege is roughly defined as the thing that frustrates non-white students trying to achieve success by working hard and following the rules.

We’re guessing talk-radio criticism of the white privilege agenda hit a nerve, because on the DPI-sponsored CREATE Wisconsin website, links to a three-day April conference on the subject still appeared this past weekend, but the details went missing.

Simultaneously, in a less race-obsessed setting, Milwaukee students who can’t possibly be accused of benefiting from “white privilege” have once again demonstrated the liberating effects of school choice. All of this year’s graduates from Hope Christian High School—ALL of them—have been accepted for higher education at various post-secondary institutions.

The white privilege agenda is just one more exhibit in an endless parade of distractions from the real business of public education. Some are simply time-wasters and otherwise comparatively benign; others are actively corrosive. Their common characteristic—and their irresistible appeal for defenders of educational mediocrity—is that they’re so much easier than the job schools are supposed to do.

But if privilege is reserved for a select group and more equal distribution of opportunity is seriously desired as the antidote, there can hardly be a better way to serve that goal than by broadly expanding school choice and allowing more kids to escape bureaucratized schools pursuing everything except their real mission.