‘Local Politics’ Features
Last night in less than an hour, Wisconsin’s GOP senators passed a stand-alone bill to eliminate bargaining rights for state employees and more. Protests have been called for some 15 sites around the state at 9am including the capitol building in Madison.(Read Email Below) To the best of our knowledge schools will be open this morning and no general strike has been called, yet.
Twitter Only Timely Resource
The committee meeting to split the budget bill, and the senate vote that followed, (One at which there were no Democratic representatives present.) happened so fast that local media was simply unable to keep up. It was once again up to the users of the social media platform, Twitter to inform the public. Users following the hash tag, “#wiunion” were being flooded with information from every corner as events unfolded. By the time the MSM caught up, the bill had been passed and the state capitol was once again filled with protesters. Read the rest of this entry »
By 9am this morning between 100 and 150 protesters had already gathered on the sidewalks leading to Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells where the annual Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism is being held. Protesters are speaking out against the Republican Governor’s stance on collective bargaining for unions, proposed changes in Wisconsin’s environmental laws and more. Protesters tell us that there are plans for a larger gathering tomorrow evening when the Governor’s Dinner and Awards Celebration is held beginning with the pre-reception at 5:30 pm and into the night. Law enforcement was visible but light. The only press on scene at the time was WKNOW Channel 27 from Madison, WI.
It’s not about the money, and it’s not just about collective bargaining. It’s also about health care. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is also trying to change the way Badger Care for Wisconsin’s low income families is managed in a way that would allow him to change the program with no real legislative oversight. For families without insurance, the elderly, those suffering long term mental disabilities and many others, the “budget repair bill” is a threat to their very way of life. It’s tragic that so many folks are have made the controversy into a one dimensional “union” issue. It’s not. This is classic political misdirection. It would be a lot harder to paint the protesters as “greedy, over paid, state works if everyone was talking about health care. To read learn more visit SaveBadgerCare.org. For thoes who understand how far reaching this bill actually is, it’s no suprise they are taking it personally. The truth is, this bill will hurt many more people than you know. In fact, it’s going to hurt a lot of people you do know.
Opinion - It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want suddenly want the details about which teachers have taken vacation days or sick days now, at this very moment, without political motives. While access to public records is a good thing, this sudden interest at the very least suggests that the folks like local Tea Party President John Meegan may not simply be good citizens interested in our community’s fiscal welfare, but may be political ideologues looking to intimidate and control other human beings within their community simply to enhance a personal sense of power. Is this the case? Maybe not. Still, we would be totally irresponsible not to ask the question. Lasting democracy depends on a watchful eye. Since the dawn of time when a populace faces social, economic or political upheavals there have always been petty thugs out in the periphery taking advantage of public discontent to enhance their own sense of self worth by intimidation which all too often turns to violence. We can only hope this is not the intent of those folks who are suddenly interested in the work records of our children’s teachers. Maybe this is something less serious, maybe Mr. Meegan is simply looking to score a few political points on an adversary? Hard to guess really givin that he was opposed to simply answering the question posed to him by a local reporter. But reading this article “Inquire or witch hunt?” in the Baraboo News Republic, it certainly sounds something I’ve heard before…
*image from pink floyd’s, The Wall.
Commentary – If you asked anyone close to the park system, they would tell you Wisconsin state parks are vastly underfunded today. It’s not surprising that parks are low on any governments priority scale of course. So how are they managing? Well, for one thing parks & national resource jobs draw in people who care about what they are doing. Often they put in a lot of personal time to get things done. In addition, some Wisconsin state parks are becoming more and more dependent on their Friends groups. These non-profit, volunteer organizations have been taking over a growing amount of the work that the under staffed parks simply can’t manage. In some cases the Friends Orgs have even helped fund staffing. Many issues such as control of invasive plants within the parks are little more than quixotic tasks for the warriors of lost causes. There’s not enough money or enough feet on the ground. This in part, is why what’s going on in Madison, Wisconsin right now is important to everyone who enjoys our natural areas. Even if we prefer to stay out of politics and keep to the woods. Read the rest of this entry »
A recent article in the local newspaper listed their choices for the “Top 10″ local stories of the year. It wasn’t particularly cheerful but then again, headlines rarely are.
Out of the selected 10 stories it’s fair to say only 3 had a positive message and only one had something good to say about our neighbors. It was a story about bystanders saving lives in an accident. The other 7 stories were either about the bad things we do to one another, or process stories that for many are little more that tedious politics. That, apparently is the best we can do. The “Top 10″ stories of a passing year here in the Baraboo Hills.
You know what? I can’t buy that. Let me say right here that I enjoy our local paper and am glad to have them around. Local news is dying all over the country and we’re lucky to still have local press. I do believe however that if this is it, we’re not looking hard enough. I understand the murder and mayhem. Every small town is afflicted and being small we feel it deeply when our neighbors are harmed. Yet, when looking back at a year’s passing here in the heart of Wisconsin there just had to be better options than just murder, injury, budgets and politics to bookend another passing year here in the heart of Wisconsin. Of all that has gone on this year, nothing could push who “Won the county sheriff race?” out of the top 10? Really? That’s all we got?
Sheriffs and budgets come and go. Businesses open and close. Life goes on regardless. I have to believe that our community must have had shone brighter that that in 2010. Maybe we weren’t paying attention. Maybe nobody was looking. It seems to me that if we truly want to have a “happy” new year, we have to start by putting more focus and more value on the good stuff. As we head into the new year, let’s work on that. Here at Skillet Creek, that’s going to be our resolution, to find the good stuff. Life is full of sadness and politics but when we look back on another passing year, it’s shouldn’t be all we have to remember.
Happy New Year! Really.
Opinion – One of the common mimes of this year’s elections has been that our government is “broken”. It’s hard not to argue that point. When things become as spiteful and polarized as they have over the last couple years, “broken” seems like an understatement. Regardless of who you vote for, whatever person or party, chances are the polarization and the spite in will simply continue unabated well beyond this election day and into the next. Read the rest of this entry »
Folks at the Sauk County fairgrounds here in Baraboo spent their Friday getting the venue ready for tomorrow’s Fighting Bob Festival. Named after Wisconsin senator and progressive presidential candidate, Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the festival is a mix of entertainment, public forums and speakers sharing progressive political viewpoints. This year former presidential candidate (1984 & 1988), civil rights leader and Rainbow PUSH Coalition founder Rev. Jesse Jackson, will be one of Saturday’s keynote speakers along with retiring U.S. Rep. David Obey. Mr. Jackson will also be honored for 50 years of fighting for justice and equality.
The Festival in Baraboo begins tomorrow morning, Saturday, Sept. 11th at 8:30 am. Opening speaker, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin will take the stage at 9am. For more information visit www.FightingBobFest.org.
Today we continue our 7 Questions series with William “Bill” Steinhorst who is running for Sauk County sheriff in the Republican primary to be held next Tuesday. This primary vote, and election as a whole has been dominated by the key phrases of “Pod A” and “hard earned tax dollars”, ad nauseam. For our interviews we “banned” both talking points in hopes to get something fresh from the candidates. With mixed results.
SC: Number 1. You’re a Republican. Do you think party affiliation matters when it comes to how you do your job as Sheriff? Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to the first in a new Skillet Creek feature called “7 Questions”. Our plan is to offer a quick and light interviews with some of the folks who share our community. Questions will always be an eclectic mix of the serious and the superficial with the goal of teasing out a little drop of insight into the folks we meet.
We’re kicking off with the three candidates for Sauk County Sheriff; Chip Meister, William Steinhorst & Paul Hefty. Meister & Steinhorst are facing each other in next week’s Republican primary so we’ll start with them and follow up with Democratic candidate Paul Hefty (who runs unopposed) next week. This primary vote, and election as a whole has been dominated by the key phrases of “Pod A” and “hard earned tax dollars”, ad nauseam. For our interviews we “banned” both talking points in hopes to get something fresh. Mr. Meister leads of off by virtue of having been first in with his responses. So without further ado… We’re off! Read the rest of this entry »