cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
I have referred to the Massachusetts Connector health plan as RomneyCare several times before. It was created and implementation began in 2006. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which I customarily call ObamaCare, was largely patterned after the Massachusetts program.
Madison, on Wednesday, was quite a bit different than it had been during the past two weeks. I observed something in the range of forty to fifty people milling about at the single entryway into the Capitol. They were not terribly engaged. I did not see any WEA signs. I did see two semi-trailer trucks emblazoned with Teamster graphics parked on the Square with out-of-state locals identified.
The current situation in Wisconsin has caused me some random thoughts that appear in no particular order:
Those of us in the Germantown School District are subject to the impact created by whatever is passed as a state budget. That will almost certainly include a reduction in state funding and it is expected to be between $500 and $600 less per pupil.
Are we being ‘run’ by forces outside our own state? I hadn’t given any real thought to this possibility until yesterday as news reports began to speculate on the subject. As I thought more about this, it became believable that we could very well be subject to outside forces pushing us in one or another direction.
This blog amplifies the information in the last Village Buzz; it deals with the cost of most of the benefits for the Germantown School District. Current bargaining agreements require that the WEA Insurance Trust (WEAIT) be the sole source for insured benefits.
We have each been witness, to the degree we’ve desired, to a significant chapter in the history of our state over the past many weeks. We have watched as one side abdicated its responsibilities and chose, instead, to leave the state in some form of self-induced exile. We have watched as the other side finally chose to initiate what some will call a ‘nuclear’ option in the vote taken last evening by the Senate to approve a recast bill that significantly erodes the rules that govern organized labor in the public sector. There is no ‘right’ to organize in the public sector; there is a ‘privilege’ to organize that is granted, if desired, by the populace.
The changes embodied in the new bargaining rules laid down with Governor Walker’s signature this morning set up an interesting dynamic for organized labor in the public sector.
The March 9th Village Buzz piece elicited the following comment from a reader:
Given the high level of angst over recent changes being made, or threatened, in state bargaining situations, I wondered if civil service rules protected teachers, fire fighters, police and county employees. Wisconsin pioneered civil service rules and those are highly protective of state employees with or without union bargaining rights. While cumbersome from some perspectives, it appears that civil service has done what it was intended to do when enacted. People who feel unfairly impacted by an employer’s decision and who are covered under civil service rules have that as their recourse.
Limiting any public program is difficult once that program has been established for some time. Limiting public programs becomes even more difficult when those who make their livings from involvement in those programs are threatened. Finally, if those involved in the public programs to be limited have joined labor organizations, the task become almost insurmountable.
There are three unions within the Germantown Police Department. Those three unions represent the patrol officers and detectives, the communication officers, and the clerks. The command staff and the administrative assistant to the Police Chief are not members of bargaining units.
Among the most important races to be decided on April 5th is that for the open Supreme Court spot in Wisconsin. That seat is now held by David Prosser who has been in the seat for more than twelve years. He is being challenged by JoAnne Kloppenburg, an avowed liberal who is campaigning on her ability to thwart Governor Walker and the Republican Legislative branch.
Unpleasant realities are confronting many of our citizens these days. I speak of those who are involved in educating our children and grandchildren and about those who labor for us in our communities and counties. And, I speak of those who make decisions in this regard as members of school boards, village boards and county boards.
The Court of Appeals has made the decision to make no decision, and to send the case involving the publishing of the law changing how unions will be governed and what they’ll be permitted to do in the future on to the Supreme Court. Mark Belling has given his analysis of the factors involved, and he makes good sense.
I seem to know quite a few teachers, especially when I am sometimes uncomfortable being engaged in a discussion about Governor Walker or any of the major occurrences in our state of late. I am uncomfortable since I know that the changes being attempted (since those are in court now) to be permitted in teacher compensation and workplace rules are very sensitive. I am uncomfortable because these encounters are often in a more public setting that doesn’t lend itself to fully engaged conversations. I am uncomfortable because I don’t want to cause further angst to my friends and acquaintances than they are already experiencing. I am uncomfortable because there are aspects of the changes with which I am comfortable.
Recall petitions are all the rage these days. It is nearly impossible to drive anywhere in a built-up area without seeing a couple of people holding up a recall sign or a clipboard. I am admittedly more aware of these sightings this time around since the person to be recalled is a person for whom I voted. Typically I am just dismayed that we think we have to do something such as this when we have regular elections in which to make decisions. Ours is a representative form of government and if those in office don’t ‘represent’ our beliefs, we recall them, or attempt to recall them, during the normal election cycles.