No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

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Archive for the 'Idiotorial of the Day' Category

September 19, 2009

Jumping The Racism Shark

Here’s a joke that is going around the internet:

A Republican, a Democrat and a person of color were walking down the street.  The Democrat looked at the Republican and said “You’re a racist!”

Ha, ha, ha, ha!

OK, I haven’t really heard that joke yet.  It does however, describe the Left’s view of Republicans and people of color.  It now seems that regardless of the situation, the Left believes that all interactions that Republicans have with people of color are tinged with racism. 

The race situation has become so contorted that no matter what Republicans do, they lose on the issue.  When Republicans fight for school vouchers, a program that has been shown to benefit students of color often more than caucasion students, Republicans are claimed to be racist for fear of tearing apart highly segregated inner city schools.  When Republicans appoint or hire people of color into leadership positions i.e. Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Michael Steele, the candidates are charged with some form of Uncle Tomism and Republican’s are charged with tokenism.

As the debate on Obama’s agenda has escalated, there has been an equal escalation in the claims of racism against those who oppose Obama.  The racism claims were initially isolated.  In the last week however, hardly any discussion of Obama’s policies or those opposing them is had without overt or subtle claims of racism against President Obama.  Most notably this past week was Maxine Water’s demand to know what the tea party participants are thinking and Nancy Pelosi’stearful concern of returning to the 70’s where, incidentally, the culprit was a whacko leftist not a Republican.

Those who know the Left and their unimaginative, repetitive tactics, are not surprised that they have invoked racism nor that it slips off their tongues as easily as raising taxes does as a solution to all budget problems.  However, even I am left with my jaw hanging after reading the latest view of the Right’s supposed racism.

After stating that his gut and Maureen Dowd’s are the same (What happens if one of them doesn’t like Thai food?) New Republic writer, John McWorter identifies a new source of our disgust with Obama’s agenda:

And yet, even if Dowd and I are correct that Wilson’s outburst was motivated by dislike for blacks, I’m not entirely sure that I, or anyone else, should care. Consider a hypothetical: Wilson, we can presume, would have been pleased as punch if the new black president were a Republican and were up at the podium singing the praises of small government and sending immigrants back to where they came from. This thought experiment does not exonerate Wilson of the charge of racism; what it does mean is that we are talking about a racism more complicated than the bigotries of old, a racism intertwined with other brands of animus (against liberals, against Democrats, against elites) to an extent we can only speculate about.

According to Mr. McWorter, racism is no longer an issue of intolerance of another race.  Rather, racism, in Mr. McWorter’s view, is now the disagreement or intolerance of philosophies held by liberal, Democrats or even self proclaimed elites!

Beyond surprising Noah Webster, McWorter’s new definition of racism is going to come as a surprise to a whole bunch of other folks.  Certainly,  Abraham Lincoln would be surprised to learn that his opposition to the Left’s support of slavery, was racist.  I suspect Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King would be surprised that they were also racists as they opposed policies that had been implemented and institutionalized by Democrats for generations.

According to Mr. McWorter You, I and anyone else who opposes any solitary policy or legislative sentence proffered by a Democrat, are racist.  No longer is there any concern for how ill thought or destructive to America a policy is, from now on, all policies from the Left are right.  Unless of course you are a racist.

“Jump the shark” is a colloquialism used to denote the point where traditional or commonly understood approaches veer off into absurdity or out-of-the-ordinary characterizations. I suggest that “Jump the shark” no longer adequately defines the extreme to which this phenomena can mutate. From now on “Jump the shark” shall be referred to as “disagreement is racism.” Compared to “disagreement is racism,” “Jump the shark” seems almost normal.

May 26, 2009

NML wants to soak you so it doesn’t have to pay

(H/T – Patrick McIlheran via Dad29)

Edward Zore, CEO of Northwestern Mutual Life, had perhaps the dumbest letter ever published in yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Let’s start by fisking said letter:

I am writing to express my support for the creation of a three-county Regional Transit Authority and a viable, dedicated funding source for transit and Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail. As CEO of a major business in Milwaukee County, I know dedicated funding for transit is critical to the future success of my business.

The local business community in Milwaukee is solidly behind the current RTA’s recommendations to shift funding for transit to a dedicated sales tax. Many opponents of this transit proposal argue that shifting transit from the property tax to a sales tax is anti-business or will drive business away. That is categorically untrue.

As one of the commenters over at P-Mac’s place said, I wonder if Zore’s attitude would change if insurance premiums on NML policies were subject to that sales tax. Dad29 notes that businesses like NML pay a lot in property tax, but don’t exactly pay a lot in sales tax.

A quick point or two of order – while there is a 3-county transit authority in the state budget being worked ov…er, on now (and indeed, there is a nascient 3-county RTA now), its sole purpose will be the KRM, and its major funding source would be a massive increase in the car-rental tax (from $2/rental to $16/rental). There also is in that budget a Milwaukee County-only RTA, which would be funded by a 17+% increase in the sales tax (from 5.6%-5.85% to 6.6%-6.85%).

What that sales tax will kill is retail businesses, especially those near the county borders and those specializing in high-cost items. It doesn’t take all that much for someone living in, say, Wauwatosa to go to Brookfield for a fine four-star dinner or a camera and spend less money.

Let’s continue…

Northwestern Mutual has two major offices in Milwaukee County and employs a significant number of residents of Wauwatosa. Our current transit system is so inadequate and obsolete that my employees cannot get from our downtown office to our Franklin location on the Milwaukee County Transit System. The lack of available transit in this region has a much greater impact on my company than a shift in how we pay for transit.

P-Mac points out that the beautiful and recently-expanded Franklin campus is 1 1/2 miles away from the nearest bus stop (Route 27), and well past the point where the sidewalks on 27th St. ends (1 mile, to be exact).

I do have a point of order – there was, for a while, a limited-schedule extension of Route 27, Route 227, that went past the NML Franlkin campus to the Franklin Industrial Park south of Ryan Rd. between 46th St. and 60th St. However, that route was cancelled due to low ridership. Guess not many NML workers rode the bus out to Franklin.

Let’s continue…

Of the top 50 most populated U.S. cities or regions, only seven do not have or are not developing rail transit. Wisconsin is already behind other regions in this regard, and without a stable bus transit system – much less improved transit and commuter rail links connecting Milwaukee to other regions – southeastern Wisconsin will be left behind as the state’s talent pool is attracted to other developing regions. Those remaining in Wisconsin cannot get to their jobs.

STOP THE TAPE!!! Just how are enough NML employees making it out to Franklin for not one, but two good-sized office buildings if one can’t take a bus, train, or sidewalk there? I believe I forgot to mention that there are enough NML employees getting there by car that they built a parking ramp.

As for a commuter train, the closest point of approach for the westernmost rail line, which is used by AMTRAK, is just under 1 1/2 miles. The closest AMTRAK station is 4 1/2 miles away. The closest the KRM, which would be on the easternmost rail line, would get is 4 1/2 miles, with the station being roughly 5 miles away. Further, neither AMTRAK nor the proposed KRM serves (or would serve) Wauwatosa.

P-Mac also hacks away at the idea that light rail would work. Anybody care to guess how much it would take to run a light rail line between Wauwatosa, the downtown Milwaukee NML campus (because we can’t expect NML employees to be bothered by transferring to the streetcar) and the Franklin NML campus?

July 1, 2008

A Conservative SCOTUS? Horrors of Horrors!

by @ 5:03. Filed under Idiotorial of the Day.

So claims E. J. Dionne in his latest lament that the United States is founded on a set of laws rather than the whimsy and momentary brain flatulence of any given Congress or President.

First, Dionne claims that the Right’s last option is the court. He claims that via SCOTUS, the Right will obstruct the will of the people even once new “Progressive” measures, according to two UNNAMED “influential journalists” (at least in Dionne’s mind) “had been overwhelmingly approved both in Congress and at the polling booths.”

Dionne’s comments are laughable for so many reasons.

First, it’s the Left that has been using SCOTUS for years to create law out of whole cloth. The most obvious of these is Roe versus Wade. Additionally, Justices like Breyer think the Constitution isn’t enough for us. Breyer thinks we should look to foreign laws for insight and direction.

Second, Dionne uses the example of the Conservative court holding FDR’s New Deal Program at bay as evidence of how a Conservative court could be obstructive.   As with all good liberals I’m sure that Dionne believes that the outcome always justifies the means.   In Dionne’s mind, it is simply inconvenience that the Conservative judges were fighting the New Deal because they saw no place in the Constitution that the Federal government had authority to enact such legislation.   Heck, for the Left, it was the “right” thing to do, it didn’t matter if it was the Constitutional thing to do.

Finally, Dionne raises the  spectre that the Right could dismantle or block  issues that he believes could result in the undoing of America:

It’s not hard to imagine the cases that conservatives would bring against laws passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a President Barack Obama. Why wouldn’t a movement that has tried to eviscerate wetlands laws and the Endangered Species Act challenge cap-and-trade legislation aimed at dealing with global warming?

If Congress ever passed a “card-check” law to make it easier for unions to organize, those who never much liked the minimum wage or collective bargaining would certainly try to overturn the new labor right in court.

And what would be the legal fate of new regulations on banking called forth by the economic devastation of the subprime mess, or bank bailouts that may be necessary to keep capitalism on track, or mandatory mortgage renegotiations to keep citizens from being thrown out of their homes?

This is going to take a while but let’s look quickly at what Dionne is so fearful of:

Wetland law evisceration: I seem to remember the Constitution providing for a thing called Private Property. Confiscatory taking is another  Constitutional no no. Wetland laws violate both of those provisions.

Endangered Species Act: See “Wetland law Evisceration”

Cap and Trade: Do we really need to discuss that any further? OK, See “Wetland law Evisceration”

Card Check law: Dionne apparently falls into the category of “all votes should be private and counted, at least once, maybe more, unless they are for Republicans or when supporting direct employer/employee relations.”

“May be necessary to keep capitalism on track” – Here’s the dirty little secret, Capitalism works best when government stays out. Capitalism doesn’t need to be kept on track, government needs to quit trying to dictate outcomes. The folks in the old Soviet Union found out out poorly government planned economies worked. Heck, even the Chinese have had to open the doors, grudgingly so, to pieces of Capitalism so that their economy can grow to support their expanding population.

The Constitution has proven to be the most prescient document ever created by men. However, if Dionne is really so disappointed with the wisdom incorporated in it, the Framers even provided for a means to change it……by getting “overwhelming” votes from the People’s representatives followed by confirmation by the people. Of course, all of that takes time and may cause people to fully think through the implications of such a significant action.   Maybe, just maybe, that too was the Framer’s intent!

I wonder if the Framers ever forsaw people like Dionne. People who are so unappreciative and dismissive of their work while chosing to remain ignorant of what it actually contains?

January 9, 2008

A transparent effort – to turn Wisconsin into Illinois

It’s been a while since I grabbed the chainsaw and pruned a Journtinel idiotorial, but I believe I’m still in practice. Besides, they made it so easy with their rabid, partisan opposition to voter ID, so let the fisking begin:

The U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue of voter identification today. It should side with the position that enables as many people as possible to vote.

Translation – it should side with the theft of elections. To that, I say, “Foxtrot Tango Sierra.”

It should see the effort to impose voter ID as a transparent attempt by Republicans to dampen voter turnout by a segment of the electorate that tends to vote Democratic. Fraud – what supporters say a requirement to show photo ID when voting is intended to combat – simply isn’t such a problem that it demands this solution. Milwaukee’s election problems in 2004 were principally about resources and record-keeping, not about voter identification.

Translation – it’s more important that DhimmiRATs win by every means necessary than to have honest elections. Once again, I say, “Foxtrot Tango Sierra.”

Regarding Milwaukee’s problems, they’re systematic, and there is no willingness at any level to deal with the big problem. That, however, is no excuse to not deal with the smaller problem.

Today, the justices will consider an Indiana law that requires voters to produce a state ID or a passport before being allowed to cast a ballot. Most states allow some other form of identification – a utility bill or a bank statement, for instance.

A state ID isn’t exactly fool-proof (it does not state whether one is a US citizen, which is a requirement to exercise one’s right to vote), but at least it’s better than a no-picture utility bill/bank statement.

In Wisconsin, which has same-day registration, registered voters need not show any photo ID at the polls. But to register, they need to produce a document that shows they live in the ward or district in which they are voting. If they can’t provide a driver’s license number, they can, for instance, give the last four digits of their Social Security number. Or they can attest that they have none of that and still get to vote.

Which proves that Wisconsin is ripe for fraud. Considering that there is, outside of the soon-to-be-ousted US Attorney for Eastern Wisconsin, nobody willing to prosecute any level of fraud, it’s just going to get worse.

Surprise, Wisconsin traditionally ranks high among the states in voter turnout. That turnout, we suspect, is what proponents of voter ID are really targeting. Sure, that likely means opponents want to get more Democrats to the polls. But one direction could lead to fewer people voting and the other more. It’s that simple.

Oh, really? I can’t speak for anybody else that is part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (charter member here), but my goal is to make sure that every legitimately-cast vote is counted once and only once. By the way, thanks for admitting your goal of a permanent-‘Rat majority by every means available, Pimentel.

In Wisconsin, the Republican-controlled state Assembly has voted to put the matter of voter ID on the ballot as a constitutional amendment. The Democrat-controlled state Senate is unlikely to go along.

Gee, I wonder why. Is it that they’re afraid they can’t manufacture votes?

Indiana is among the strictest of the handful of states – Arizona, Georgia, Florida and Missouri – that enacted voter ID, though the state cannot produce much evidence of voter fraud of the kind that this law would erase. Yes, those who challenged the law could not produce anyone harmed by the law, but that was, they say, because they filed the suit before it went into effect. In the interim, they point to 32 legal voters whose votes could not be counted because of the law.

Simple math should convince the justices to overturn the Indiana law. About 10% – or 20 million voting age citizens – don’t have a driver’s license or passport.

Do we really want to go into the math game? I can just as easily point to dozens of people that would probably be alive if Wisconsin had a concealed-carry law.

So go get one is the usual retort. But cost (unless they’re free) and transportation to do that are obstacles for many. In any case, why would we want to provide any disincentive for those eligible to vote in the first place?

Given that they need IDs to get government welfare, cash those government checks, and generally participate in society, that’s a bunch of freshly-dumped Bravo Sierra. To counter the disincentive, why should government do absolutely, positively nothing to ensure the integrity of said vote?

The message, intended or not, is that some eligible people don’t deserve the vote. That’s unacceptable.

What is unacceptable is that those votes can easily be stolen because we refuse to allow any safeguards whatsoever.

Wisconsin may or may not be a permanent-‘Rat majority state. I want to find out honestly, not through stolen elections.

August 20, 2007

SF Chronicle – We’re for Democraticy, not democracy

Thanks to the fine folks at Free Republic, I’ve expanded my search for stupid idiotorials. The San Francisco Chronicle obliged with a missive (mis)titled “In defense of 55 electoral votes”. How is this idiotorial wrong? Let’s count the ways…

AMERICANS DON’T like the Electoral College. It’s unwieldy, it seems anti-democratic and it has given rise to one of the more despicable facts of modern presidential campaigning: rather than addressing the concerns of the entire country, major-party candidates choose to do most of their post-primary campaigning in just a few battleground states – Ohio and Florida happen to be the most popular ones right now. So, in the face of a proposed California ballot measure that means to erode it, allow us to explain why the Electoral College system is worth defending – at least until someone comes up with a nonpartisan, effective means of abolishing it.

It’s meant to be unwieldy. Indeed, it’s meant to preserve, after a fashion, the last bit of rights the states have over the federal government. I’m sure that, especially now, Plastic Pelosi’s hometown paper would love the British system of the party that runs the legislative automatically running the executive. Oh, and if anything, that’s less-democratic (small “d”) than what we have now.

I’ll wait until a bit later to take a whack at their “defense”, but I will note right now that a ballot initiative is of questionable constitutionality. The US Constitution specifically gives the various state legislatures sole determination of how to allocate the electors. It could easily be argued that a change in the allocation via California’s ballot initiative, which does not involve the Legislature at all, would be explicitly unconstitutional.

The ballot measure, known right now only as No. 07-0032, was filed by Thomas W. Hiltachk, managing partner of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk. This is the law firm for the California Republican Party. The measure would do away with the custom of awarding all of California’s 55 electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote. Instead, 2 electoral votes would be given to the statewide winner and the rest would be given to whoever won in each of 53 congressional districts. Because 19 of California’s 53 districts are represented by Republicans, and 22 districts voted for President Bush in 2004, this initiative would probably offer around 20 electoral votes to a Republican in the 2008 presidential election.

But, but, but I thought the Chronicle wanted democracy. Two states (Maine and Nebraska) already allocate their electors this way.

“What can be more fair than this?” said Kevin Eckery, spokesman for Californians for Equal Representation, which is the nominal entity sponsoring the initiative. “Everyone’s voice is going to be heard. It could even help third-party candidates, like the Green Party, in a place like San Francisco.”

It definitely would boost turnout in various portions of California. Of course, most of them would be Pubbies that would finally have a reason to vote, and the rest would be the Naderites.

Also, placing a good number of formerly-safe ‘Rat votes into the mix will get the candidates into California. Then again, that’s not the Chronicle’s goal; it is to get DhimmiRATs elected no matter what.

Please. This is nothing but dirty politics. Nor are snatch-and-grab initiatives just like this one the sole province of Republican interests. In 2004, Colorado voters rejected a similar initiative that would’ve benefited the Democratic presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John Kerry. (President Bush beat Kerry 52 to 42 percent, but had the initiative passed, Kerry would’ve gotten 4 electoral votes to Bush’s 5.)…

STOP THE TAPE! Giving 100% of one state’s electoral vote to somebody who garners a plurality is the very definition of dirty politics. As an aside, the emphasis was in the original. Roll tape.

…Colorado voters, who initially supported the measure, realized a couple of things that Californians must come to recognize should No. 07-0032 make it onto our June 3 ballot:

— Splitting the number of electoral votes a candidate can win from any one state is highly unlikely to motivate them to spend more time here,…

STOP THE TAPE!!! When was the last time a Presidential candidate really invested time in California? The ‘Rats currently considers those 55 almost as safe as New York’s, while the wiser Pubbies have completely ignored California since 1988. The only thing that might change that calculus under the current system is if the Pubbie hails from California, and neither half of the ‘Rat ticket is from west of the Rockies. Put at least some of those votes in play, and attention will necessarily follow.

…and

— Measures such as this are useless and, usually, highly partisan, unless the entire country adopts them.

Which explains why Nebraska and Maine do this already </sarcasm>.

That’s why any credible measure to reform the Electoral College – and there have been hundreds of them, nearly all as flawed as the existing system – must be launched on a national level, preferably by a disinterested party.

Acutally, it can’t, at least without Congressional approval. Those schemes would involve either interstate compacts or a Constitutional amendment, and both have to go through Congress.

For instance, the efforts of John Koza – a genetic programming professor at Stanford University – to circumvent the Electoral College in favor of having each state ensure its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote merit attention. This isn’t because his idea is perfect (it’s certainly not). But what’s worth noting are the facts that he spearheaded a national movement (his group, National Popular Vote, has found 364 sponsors for bills in 47 states) and that Koza has fought hard to appeal to both political parties. (He’s been a Democratic elector, but he’s enthusiastically sought out Republican bill sponsors.) Koza understands that democracy can only work if everyone agrees to play by the same rules – and at the same time.

I do believe I whacked this before.

Would that the sponsors of No. 07-0032 felt the same way. To qualify for the June 3 primary ballot – a ballot that is expected to have low turnout, now that the Legislature has moved the presidential primary portion to Feb. 5 – they must collect more than 400,000 valid signatures. (Eckery said that, to be safe, they’ll need to collect a figure in the range of 700,000.) If the California Republican Party jumps in with money and support, California voters must consider who this measure will truly benefit – we promise that it’s not them.

As a change via ballot initiative would inevitably be tied up in the courts and likely struck down, I agree. However, if the California Legislature were to adopt that plan, I would be in favor.

August 3, 2007

MJS 5th Column to residents of the 8th Supervisor District – raise taxes

Charlie beat me to this by bringing up the special election of the 21st Assembly District back in 2003, but since he’s stuck in the technological hell that’s the State Fair Fish Bowl, I’ve got the ability to fisk the idiotorial of the day endorsing free-spending and tax-hiking advocate Patricia Jursik in the special election on Tuesday, August 7 to fill the County Board seat vacated by Ryan McCue –

Holding an election in the dog days of summer is not the best way to choose elected representatives for reasons so obvious we don’t need to list them here.

I’m sure they would rather have Lee “Thug” Holloway appoint free-spenders to fill vacancies created by those leaving office, or alternatively, have some schmoe like McCue double-dip into the trough. Unfortunately for them, Lee and Ryan, that’s not how things work.

But voters in Milwaukee County’s 8th Supervisory District don’t have a choice. The special election is Tuesday to fill the County Board vacancy prompted by the spring election of Ryan McCue as Cudahy mayor. The district includes Cudahy, South Milwaukee, St. Francis and part of Oak Creek.

ATTENTION! YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! This includes those of you in Oak Creek east of Quincy Avenue between Rawson and Drexel, or north of Carrolton/Maderia between 15th Ave and Chicago. The election is on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 between 7 am and 8 pm.

Patricia Jursik, an attorney in Cudahy in private practice, gets our strong recommendation.

And hopefully the Journtinel idiotorial board kiss of death.

Her opponent, Chris Kujawa of South Milwaukee, clearly has business skills and experience to offer; he is vice president of his family’s landscape business, Kujawa Enterprises Inc. But Jursik is the better bet for a variety of reasons, including her past experience on numerous public boards and commissions, her sense of independence and her deeply felt belief that the county cannot continue to cut spending and stubbornly hold the line on taxes without sacrificing such things as parks, transit and services to the elderly that people in her district care so much about.

The irony here is that the elderly in the district won’t be able to afford the higher taxes that the Journtinel wants so desperately, so they won’t be around to use said services.

She is much more open than Kujawa to new sources of county revenue, including tapping into existing sales taxes, to relieve the burden on the property tax.

Charlie said it best in this week’s CNI column – “We’ve been here before. In 1991, the last time we had a big county tax increase, county pols promised that the windfall would go for property tax relief, parks and transit. In the next decade property taxes went up, support for the parks dropped, and transit is still a mess.

“Instead, the pols spent the money and stole the rest.”

Say, wasn’t 1991 the year that the floodgates really opened up on the pension grab that just came to light this week?

Jursik says Kujawa is County Executive Scott Walker’s hand-picked candidate. That’s overstating it. But we know what she’s getting at. Walker endorsed Kujawa even before the six-person primary, and, in turn, Kujawa says he philosophically agrees with Walker most of the time.

Here we go again. Can we question the 5th Column’s claims to fairness now? For the record, Kujawa was the only candidate that recognizes that taxes are too damn high.

There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but as Jursik points out, electing a supervisor with a more independent voice is the best way to assure checks and balances.

Allow me to ReWrite™ that to reflect the actual thinking (such as it is) – “There’s nothing everything wrong with that per se, but as Jursik points out, electing a supervisor with a more independent liberal, free-spending, tax-hiking voice is the best way to assure checks and balances a 2/3rds majority ready, willing and able to jack up taxes and spending to levels not seen outside of the Soviet Union in its prime.”

Kujawa says supervisors are overpaid and promises to give back $20,000 of his salary. And he does offer some good ideas, including putting the House of Correction under the sheriff’s authority. But Kujawa seems too willing to embrace privatization to help solve the county’s fiscal problems, including having the county turning over mental health services to private providers.

Hell, the private sector cannot possibly do a worse job of that than the county, which did such a poor job that the Journtinel ran a series on just how poor a job the county did.

We’re also troubled by his opposition to the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail proposal, which even Walker supports.

That’s not the kind of “independence” the Journtinel wants. Of course, I’m heartened by Kujawa’s opposition to that boondoggle.

Jursik finished first in the primary, and 8th District voters would be wise to put her in the winner’s column on Tuesday.

No, they would be monumentally-stupid.

Vote Chris Kujawa on Tuesday, August 7, 2007.

July 29, 2007

Once again, MJS says “cooperation” really means “suburbs feed Milwaukee’s bottomless pits”

Revisions/extensions (6:16 pm 7/30/2007) – I was a bit harsh on Jason Fields. The editorial didn’t have the extended quote from Fields, which provides a reason for his lack of ideas, and I failed to pick it up in the extended excerpt linked to below. Here it is:

Here’s what bothers me whenever we talk about these issues, because I respect and admire everyone in this room. We all agree that it should be about valuing kids, it should be about the child’s education. But once we leave here, we get into these political battles between opponents, but everybody’s saying it’s about the kids, it’s about the kids.

But if I go back and say, “Listen, we need to break up MPS; we need to make it smaller,” I’ll get raked over the coals for saying something like that, even though we all know at this table that’s probably the best idea. . . .

Of course, that brings up a couple of other issues, namely the stranglehold the teachers’ unions have on the ‘Rats, and the lack of courage on the part of Fields to buck that stranglehold.

(H/T – Reaganite)

While everybody’s favorite croc merely focuses on the “metropolitan fiscal control board” portion of this morning’s editorial on the latest round table of community leaders. Let’s expand the focus some and do some fisking (since it’s been, what, 2 weeks since I took a machete to one of their editorials):

The amazing thing was how fast the conversation turned to education. In a discussion last week among key area leaders on regional cooperation, education quickly became the topic of discussion.

The importance of an educated work force, of good schools and of a regional community that places a high value on education was stressed again and again by the nine speakers in a round-table discussion hosted by the Editorial Board. What became immediately clear is that education is not just an issue faced by one school district – Milwaukee Public Schools – or one community.

So why the focus on MPS?

Failure at MPS or any other district affects communities and businesses throughout the region. Everyone in southeastern Wisconsin has a stake in what happens in MPS, in Racine Unified, in the Waukesha School District and in all of the other school districts in the area.

AHHROOOOOGAH! AHHROOOOOOGAH! The BOHICA siren is going off; I hope you’re listening out in Brookfield, Mequon, Germantown, and other assorted out-of-Milwaukee-County locations.

What’s needed is a regional response, which should include more involvement of businesses outside Milwaukee County in MPS and other school districts’ programs, more collaborative efforts such as the Kern Family Foundation and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Lead the Way program and a debate on what fundamental changes need to be made at MPS and other troubled districts, including whether to change their governing structure. Such a debate should be considered for other local governments, the idea being to make them more manageable, more accountable and more in control of their own affairs and budgets.

After all, it is all the gubmint’s money, and there’s no bigger gubmint outside of Madistan than in Milwaukee, so they need EVERYBODY’S cash.

Businessman Sheldon Lubar of the Greater Milwaukee Committee put his finger on the problem early in the discussion: “You cannot reach the levels that I think all of you want to see us reach if you have a dropout rate of 50% of your high school students.”

I’ll point out that the problem isn’t the lack of money. If money is what solves education problems, MPS, RUSD, and the like would be the best districts in the state.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said one of his biggest surprises after taking office was the need to improve work force development. “If there’s one issue where I would love to take this community and shake it by the shoulders, it is how important education is in this world economy now,” he said.

How could he be surprised? Before taking the job of milk-carton photographee, he had spent a bunch of years in perhaps the only city with worse schools than Milwaukee.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker talked about breaking up MPS into several districts; Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas argued for the need to reduce health care costs, the single biggest driver of government and school district costs; state Rep. Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee) talked about the politics of changing the educational system.

“This issue has been occurring for the last 20 years, but nothing’s been done about it,” Fields said. “If I sit at this table and we all agree that we need to do something, when we leave this room not a damn thing will change, and those black kids, kids in my neighborhood and my community, will still be in the same position.”

Irony, thy name is Jason Fields. Walker suggested something potentially constructive. Vrakas, who doesn’t really have a dog in the MPS fight, suggested something that would free up money. Fields blathered on without any suggestions. Guess who got the extended quote?

That needs to change for the sake of giving those kids a reasonable chance at a better life but also for the sake of southeastern Wisconsin’s ability to compete in the global marketplace.

Again, mo’ money is not the solution.

Other things need to change, too, as the discussion made clear:

Transportation: Barrett and Walker need to come to terms on transportation issues and how to spend $91.5 million in federal funds that has been sitting unused for 16 years. Bringing in a mediator or transportation experts to resolve the dispute, as suggested by Lubar, makes sense. The onus for compromise lies more on Walker, who supports some rail components such as KRM and a regional approach but who needs to push harder for his ideas and who still remains stubbornly opposed to other rail components. Rosemary Potter of Transit NOW was right when she argued that the area needs a truly regional transit system governed by a regional authority and funded in a way that takes the burden off property taxpayers. But judging by the discussion, compromise on transportation issues is a ways off.

No, the onus is on the free-spending choo-choo fans because rail, whether it’s the Milk Carton’s light-rail-lite or the KRM, is not an answer. I’ve previously gone on the record as saying that $91.5 million would be better spent retiring some of the bonds held by Red China, and I’m sticking with it.

Did I not sound the BOHICA alarm? That “truly regional transit system” governed by a “regional authority” is code for Milwaukee dominating everything while the burbs feed the bottomless pit. Morever, we do not need a RTA, especially one which spent all of its money trying to get more.

Water: Compromise needs to be reached on water quality and supply issues; the region can start with the request of New Berlin to obtain Lake Michigan water. Water, as state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) pointed out, is “our oil” and critical for economic health. There is a good model for agreement – worked out by William Mielke of the Waukesha engineering firm Ruekert & Mielke Inc. – in Racine County for supplying services and sharing the benefits of growth. To his credit, Barrett said such an agreement was possible involving Milwaukee and New Berlin.

Before I comment, I need to find out more about that. Considering the Journtinel supports it, it sounds like BOHICA. Fred? Unreal? Peter? Another of the Racine readers? Could you provide some missing info on this?

Governance: Lubar’s insistence on the need to change the state’s governance structure brought to light a critical issue. Wisconsin’s system of governance is out of date and out of touch. Too many decisions that affect taxes are made by bodies with little or no accountability to the public. Elected officials often have too little say over their costs and revenue. He suggested creating a metropolitan fiscal control board that would have budgetary control over certain entities, such as Milwaukee Public Schools, Miller Park, Milwaukee Area Technical College and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. Margaret Farrow, former lieutenant governor and president of the Waukesha County Action Network, pointed out that a review of the state constitution and of how government works and is paid for in Wisconsin is long overdue.

STOP THE TAPE! There’s so much to hammer here, and Reaganite only hammered one small part. I don’t have time to deliver a lengthy beatdown, so I’ll be brief. The problem is shared revenue, and a metropolitan fiscal control board, dominated by the city of Milwaukee, doling out the cash to “everybody” (I note that only Milwaukee-specific entities are listed) would only make it worse.

Specifically with regard to MPS, I refer you to the title of this piece. All that state aid those of you in Glendale, River Hills, Oak Creek, Brookfield, Thiensville, New Berlin, Union Grove, West Bend, and Oconomowoc (among others) send to MPS isn’t enough for the monster.

Oh, and those of you in Mequon and Germantown can forget about getting out of MATC. Not only aren’t you getting out, everybody else is getting sucked in.

Maybe if we stick Racine, western Waukesha, and northern Ozaukee and Washington Counties in MMSD’s taxing reach, they’ll finally build a deep-enough tunnel. NAH!

Economic development and basic cooperation: Asked what he’d like to point to as an achievement a year from now, attorney and former state Commerce Secretary Cory Nettles suggested creating a “regional top 10 collaborative list, and to make the list, you would have to very clearly demonstrate your impact in creating jobs within the region and reducing the cost of government.”

Allow me to start – lower spending. Oh, that’s right; we’re talking about PIGs in gubmint.

A good idea. What’s needed, as several speakers pointed out, are fewer words and more action. Certainly, the work of the Milwaukee 7 on regional economic development has been groundbreaking, but regional leaders have to build on those efforts to keep that momentum going.

Oh, it’s been groundbreaking all right. Everybody out of state is breaking ground…

Bickering among ourselves in southeastern Wisconsin does nothing to help us compete against Southeast Asia or the rest of the world. We must get our act together.

…especially in Southeast Asia. Part of that’s federal because they’ve listened to the likes of the Journtinel idiotorial board for many moons. Do we want to listen to that kind of advice and turn southeast WisTAXsin into so much a tax hell, the rest of the state looks attractive by comparison?

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