Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The Legislature passed the Budget Repair Bill yesterday. Among the items included in the bill, besides 31 positions for the State Crime Lab (an issue that form AG Peg Lautenschlager acknowleged and was working on before ol' JB Van Hollen decided to make it a campaign issue), the bill also restored 270 positions for State Power Plants. Most people are probably saying "huh", what da heck, why? Here's the story...

Back in 2005, good ol' Scott (Scooter) Jensen managed to get his dream of privitizing the Power Plants that produce heat at all state institutions (prisons, universities, mental health facilities, etc) into the state budget. The plan was to sell the facilities at a fraction of their value to some private interest that would operate them more cheaply and get the state out of the Power Plant business. The employees would have been offered jobs with these private firms (whoopee), but, you can bet that we would have found out the same thing that Minnesota did. That the private companies don't care very much for the facilities, they care more about the bottom line. Minnesota had major issues with their privatized plants and is ending up going back to state run, at a major cost. Fortunately for Wisconsin, the Governor vetoed this, but, he was not able to restore the positions of the roughly 271 human beings who work to keep those plants running 24/7. The bottom line is that 271 individuals would have been out of a job as of July 1, 2007. In order for this not to occur, the positions had to be restored by April 1, 2007. The Republicans in control, wanting to distance themselves from ol' Scooter (what is it with Republicans and that name) promised they would take care of this minor technicality right away back in '05. Well, it was February '07 and they hadn't done that. They had lost the Senate and a few seats in the Assembly and seemed more interested in making some political hay out of this. So, about 40 Power Plant Operators visited the Capitol on a pretty cold day and reminded the folks that it could get pretty cold in their offices if there was no heat. Well, the Republicans played a few more games, but, they had to take care of the Budget Repair Bill to get J.B.'s positions in the crime lab. Steve Nass, tried pretty hard to change the bill, but, when all was said and done, the Budget Repair Bill passed. So, thanks to all the Legislators who supported the Repair Bill, including our Assembly rep from the 54th!

Speaking of privatization, there were some outspoken comments at a City Council forum held prior to tonights Democratic Party meeting. Three candidates were solid in their positions against privitization of core public services, Bryan Bain, Jess King and Tony Palmeri. Bob Cornell and Meredith Scheuermann were willing to "consider it as an option", as was Frank Tower. Mr. Nielsen and Mr. Esslinger did not attend the forum. Tony got applause from the audience when he reminded the group that privitization is what caused the issues at Walter Reed Hospital.

I felt that this forum actually brought out more of the true colors of the candidates and indicated that several are using the coattails of others to hang on to---ie., the me to candidates. I'm pretty sure where my votes are going, at least for City Council.


WCLC and PEOPLE endorsed candidates

Just to make things clear, here are the endorsements for City elections from two area labor groups...

First, Winnebago County Labor Council (represents AFL-CIO affiliated unions in the Oshkosh area). Endorsements were based on responses on candidate questionaires and voting by Council delegates at the monthly meeting 2/27/07)

City Council
Bryan Bain
Jessica King
Tony Palmeri

No endorsement

School Board
Karen Bowen
Teresa Thiel

AFSCME PEOPLE (Political Action Committee for the City & County employees who are members of AFSCME Council 40 (does not include State Employees). Endorsements based on responses to questionaires and interviews conducted by area Council 40 local members.

City Council
Bryan Bain
Jessica King

Frank Tower

New Radio program for working families

"Big Wild Communications launches state wide radio show dedicated to Wisconsin's working families."

Big Wild Communications (BWC) launches "Lunch Pail Logic" The first ever radio program dedicated to Wisconsin's working families. Lunch Pail Logic will launch state wide syndication on 7 stations the weekend of March 17th & 18th. Lunch Pail Logic will air in Oshkosh on WOSH-1490AM on Saturday mornings from . 11-11:30am.

Working with prominent organizations in Wisconsin, Lunch Pail Logic was planned and arranged to promote the concerns of Wisconsin's working families. It is a cutting edge, entertaining platform in which the concerns of working families will be heard. We will feature leaders from labor, government, and industry. Lunch Pail Logic is brought to you by the Wisconsin Laborers' District Council, The PGU Law Firm, The Operating Engineers Local 139, The Construction Labor Management Council, and AFSCME Council 24. "To my knowledge this is the only Wisconsin specific, "working families" talk radio program in the state. We are breaking ground for the future of working families in Wisconsin", explained Joe Wineke, Co Host. John "Sly" Sylvester, Co Host, Lunch Pail Logic; commented, "Lunch Pail Logic is exactly what we need for Wisconsin's working families to be heard. We are tailoring specific interviews and segments to timely issues and concerns of Wisconsin's working families. This radio show will make people stand up and take notice."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Snow removal

I want to thank the Advance Titan for publishing an article about the Grounds crew and other Facilities Mangement employees on campus who have been working pretty hard over the past week and a half to clear snow from campus walks and parking lots. Reporter, Aubrey Krystek did a great job covering the work that is done in the early mornings to make it possible for students and staff to park their cars and get to their buildings. Oftentimes this is a thankless job, and you sometimes get more insult then kudos. If you'd like to read the article, just follow this link.

The other thing I'd like to say, in relation to this article, at least the students are showing some understanding and appreciation for the work that is done by public employees. Before someone smart says, but, "they don't pay taxes to pay those overpaid workers" , ask a student how much more they are paying for tuition compared to a few years ago. No, their tuition doesn't directly pay for the support and maintenance staff on campus, but, the students still are paying more of the costs for their education. So, keep that in mind, all you whiners on other blogs who love to rip the public employees in the city. If City employees weren't working, your street wouldn't be plowed! Granted, it's not a lot of fun clearing the miniature version of the Rocky Mountains that the plow deposits at the end of your driveway, but, it's winter and this is Wisconsin. And yes, I was cursing the plows when I was shoveling my own version of the front range before I left for work yesterday, but, my street is looking pretty good. So, thanks City of Oshkosh plow drivers, you've been working hard for all of us.

Monday, March 05, 2007

2007 City Council Endorsements

The snow has been great for snowshoeing. Yesterday, we spent a wonderful day up in Door County enjoying Peninsula State Park. If you've never been there in winter, it's a whole different world. Snowshoeing and knitting or "playing with the sticks and strings" as the cats would say, has been keeping the chicks out of trouble.

I want to call your attention to the posting on Eye on Oshkosh regarding the endorsements recently done by the Winnebago County Labor Council

It's interesting that the union endorsements are drawing some attention in the City Council Campaign. Especially the endorsements of Wisconsin AFSCME PEOPLE. AFSCME PEOPLE, for the uninitiated, is the Political Action Committee for the AFSCME councils that represent the City and County AFSCME employees around the state. The State employees (WSEU), also an AFSCME Council, has a separate Political Action Committee, SEPAC, and does not participate in City/County races unless a WSEU employee is running.

Anyhow, seems on some of the blogs, folks and at least one candidate are trying to equate an AFSCME endorsement with the City Employees trying to buy a candidates vote on the council. The candidate who is suggesting this should observe that PEOPLE also endorsed Frank Tower for Mayor. Obviously, those who are implying this have never participated in a candidate interview or the endorsement process. The process has nothing to do with telling the candidate what you want, the interview process involves finding out where the candidate stands on issues that are important to the members of the organization. It also gives participants a chance to get to know the candidates if interviews are conducted. Those who get endorsed are the candidates who have views that fit most closely to those of the organization making the endorsement. Sometimes, there are no candidates that fit the needs, and no endorsement is made (the Labor Council did not endorse a candidate for Mayor).

Endorsements are valuable to a candidate, no doubt. Yes, sometimes they can involve a monetary contribution from the group. In the Labor Council case, we do not have a PAC, so we cannot offer money to candidates. So, there is no way we're "buying" votes on the council. We can offer the support of our members, and we also use our ability to spread the word on our endorsement to AFL-CIO affiliates in the councils jurisdication.

Hope that helps clarify some misconceptions that are out there.