A Tale of Two Cities – Wisconsin Edition; Update: School vandalized ahead of Walker visit

posted at 12:10 pm on August 26, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Now that Wisconsin’s public-employee union reform law has gone into effect, how has it impacted the state’s taxpayers?  Two cities in the Badger State took two different approaches to it, and came up with two very different outcomes.  First, let’s look at Oshkosh, whose school district waited until after the passage of the PEU reforms to negotiate health-care coverage, which the city had contracted with the Wisconsin Education Association Trust, part of the teachers union and a major source of income for the PEUs.  Now that the unions can no longer negotiate on benefits, Oshkosh has the latitude to find the best deal for coverage — and that will save taxpayers a ton of money (via Tim R):

The district hopes to drive down costs by taking advantage of newfound competition between insurance companies hungry to break into the education market, which has so far been dominated by WEA Trust, a nonprofit provider created by the state teachers’ union.

Many districts, including Oshkosh, have previously tried to switch providers for lower rates, but local unions staunchly refused the offers. They argued for-profit companies would make up the difference with larger rate hikes in future years.

But unions no longer have a say in the matter since the state Legislature approved a law preventing most public sector unions’ from bargaining over anything but wages.

The district could realize millions of dollars in immediate savings by seeking a new provider. Appleton schools stuck with WEA Trust but saved $3.1 million by stirring up competition. The Kimberly school district dropped WEA Trust and saved $821,000.

I wrote about the WEA Trust racket in February.  Unions insisted on forcing school districts and cities to use the WEA Trust, which charged premiums far above the market, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year — perhaps hundreds of millions when spread across the state.  That allows these counties, cities, and school districts to spend the money on actual services to students and taxpayers, or perhaps just save people some money on their tax bill so that they can spend it themselves.

On the other hand, Wisconsin’s capital of Madison rushed to conclude a deal with the unions before the PEU reforms took place.  Want to guess how that’s working out in the city that unions control?

Former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz extended several city labor contracts in February.

Then he signed and extended contracts again in March — just before his April re-election bid.

The unions, which feared Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s looming changes to collective bargaining, were happy with the deals. And AFSCME endorsed Cieslewicz’s campaign.

But now the results are painfully clear for city residents.

City agencies just proposed laying off 38 cops and 27 firefighters while reducing salt and sand on covered streets during winter. The agencies also proposed eliminating the school crossing guard program and reducing lifeguards at beaches while closing some city skating rinks.

Cieslewicz’s rush to extend the contracts had no basis other than shameless pandering to the unions.  It violated the fiduciary responsibility of the mayor to protect the interests of the taxpayers over that of its contractors.  What manager would rush to negotiate union contracts under the worst possible negotiating environment when it was obvious that the environment would shortly improve — even though it still allowed Cieslewicz to cut any deal he wanted later?  Answer: The kind of manager who sells out his constituents in favor of his political allies.

The new mayor now has to make very unpopular cuts in first responders and services, and raise property taxes as well, by 3%.  The Wisconsin State Journal’s editorial board is furious:

Cieslewicz and other city leaders should have seen this coming. And they should have waited to finalize any new city contracts with labor unions until after state changes to collective bargaining kicked in.

That would have given city leaders more flexibility to save on employee wages and benefits — in the same way that school districts all around the state have done — rather than laying off workers and cutting services for potentially years to come.

Had the PEU reforms not passed at all, no city, county, or school district would have had that flexibility.  Taxpayers across the state would still be getting the shaft from the WEA Trust and the unions, and having to lay off first responders and cut services instead.  Looks like Scott Walker knew what he was doing after all, and they’re discovering that even in Madison.

Update: They’re keepin’ it classy in Wisconsin:

Custodial staff at Messmer Preparatory school were replacing locks Friday morning after the previous ones had been filled with metal and glue overnight, said the school’s Development Director Jeffrey Robb.

“We’re very disappointed,” he said.

The vandalism came hours before Gov. Scott Walker was scheduled to visit the school to read to second- and third-graders. Walker plans to read, “Oh! The Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss.

Now who might have done that?  Well, a representative of the Milwaukee branch of the Students for a Democratic Society tells the Journal-Sentinel that “We’re not going to let him go anywhere, especially in our community, without him being protested,” although he disavowed the vandalism as ineffective to the cause.  Whoever did it has no problem costing schools and school districts more money in order to keep their stranglehold on power in public policy.

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This is what democracy looks like.

steebo77 on August 26, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Hey whatever. Madison loves unions. Let them pay the cost.

angryed on August 26, 2011 at 12:15 PM

So, I hope they don’t plow the streets–especially near the schools. And then blame the unions.

Vanceone on August 26, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Surprise, surprise!

So will the next recall election be for the mayor of Madison?

iurockhead on August 26, 2011 at 12:16 PM

HMMM—conservatisim works. Bet that will be big news in the MSM.

dirtseller on August 26, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Looks like Scott Walker knew what he was doing after all, and they’re discovering that even in Madison.

You assume the people are smart enough to recognize this. The Dems will spin it otherwise.

John Deaux on August 26, 2011 at 12:21 PM

City agencies just proposed laying off 38 cops and 27 firefighters while reducing salt and sand on covered streets during winter

i hope those folks go up to a teacher and say thank you for nothin……

cmsinaz on August 26, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Awesome post.

forest on August 26, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Have the ‘smart elitist left’ read the classical piece?

Schadenfreude on August 26, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Related: two more examples of left-wing “tolerance” on display in Wisconsin.

First, Gov. Scott Walker had a scheduled visit to Messmer Preparatory School to read to kindergarteners today. Messmer is a Catholic school, a Choice school, that serves mostly inner-city children and most of them are African-American. A protestor super-glued the doors of the school shut in a (failed) attempt to thwart the visit, from 620WTMJ.com (the only local news outlet covering this story thus far, by the way):

“Some of these folks super glued our front doors at the prep school,” said Br. Bob Smith, OFM, the president of Messmer Catholic Schools, about the school on the corner of North Fratney and East Burleigh Streets.

He told Newsradio 620 WTMJ that a woman was walking in front of the school Thursday, asking people to protest.

According to Br. Smith, one protester said ” ‘Get ready for a riot,’ because they were going to disrupt the visit.”

Br. Smith said that, in his opinion, the Republican governor’s visit to read to students there on Friday was not about political overtones connected to protests that have been happening all year in the state regarding the rollback of collective bargaining rights for many public workers.

“People ought to start acting like adults,” said Br. Smith.

And Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson was lambasted by a Madison lefty blogger and Jane Yolen, author of the children’s book How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? . Also from 620WTMJ.com:

A classic tale in so many ways. Senator Ron Johnson reads a children’s book to some children in Madison… and lefties make a controversy out of it… even getting the author of the book to complain. How dare those conservative Republicans read…boooks…to….children. Aren’t they supposed to hate them?

What did Yolen have to say about this?

“I wish he would help kids and not cut those programs that help them, rather than just reading a book chosen for him, and written by a progressive Massachusetts liberal like me.”

The Wisconsin left 1) will never pass up an opportunity to politicize something and 2) will deny educational opportunities to children if there are political points to be gained (or made).

Despicable. Those of you who don’t live in Wisconsin have only a small idea of what this insanity has been like.

englishqueen01 on August 26, 2011 at 12:26 PM

This is what a democracy representative Republic looks like.

rtsidedragon on August 26, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Some nuts are not fixable, just go around, don’t wake them.

tarpon on August 26, 2011 at 12:29 PM

the world that works

Shawn92101 on August 26, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Yeah, I’m sure those union bosses will be sending letters of condolence to their members now being laid off. And they’ll have no problems keeping the members addresses in their data base so that they can hit them up for political donations later on. Maybe the donations can be taken directly from their unemployment check. Consider it part of the “economic stimulus”.

GarandFan on August 26, 2011 at 12:35 PM

a representative of the Milwaukee branch of the Students for a Democratic Society

Say, didn’t SDS give rise to the Weather Underground?

steebo77 on August 26, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Now who might have done that?

Krugman, stimulus!

the_nile on August 26, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Wisconsin, the birthplace of the Republican Party in opposition to slavery and possible rebirth in opposition to unionized slavery as well?

golfmann on August 26, 2011 at 12:37 PM

golfmann on August 26, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Maybe, some of these schools will be able to afford security cameras with the money Walker is saving them…

Purposefully causing that school damage shows their real agenda. Anarchy and lawlessness. What a despicable act done by people who declare their motives as “for the children“.

Fallon on August 26, 2011 at 12:39 PM

What, exactly, are these leftists protesting? The fact that the new budget saved cities money? And prevented layoffs of city workers? I’m so confused.

lorien1973 on August 26, 2011 at 12:39 PM

He’s the former mayor, so even with the pandering, he lost? Wow, way to leave a legacy.

Madison schools better outperform the other districts . . .

PastorJon on August 26, 2011 at 12:41 PM

“We’re not going to let him go anywhere, especially in our community, without him being protested,” although he disavowed the vandalism as ineffective to the cause. Whoever did it has no problem costing schools and school districts more money in order to keep their stranglehold on power in public policy.

PEUs and Democrats are in the kickin’ chicken phase in Wisconsin….When the best you’ve got is to bust some school locks on the places you think you’re helping with your efforts, well, you might have to rethink your tactics. Stupid.

ted c on August 26, 2011 at 12:48 PM

Time to bring back public punishment. Put one or two of these low-lifes in a set of stocks for a day or so and let the public ridicule them. That should fix the problem.

ultracon on August 26, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Can they please install cameras to catch these teachers in the act?

John the Libertarian on August 26, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Basically, the difference between the teachers’ union and the mafia is that the mafia takes its income in cash.

Vashta.Nerada on August 26, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Whoever did it has no problem costing schools and school districts more money in order to keep their stranglehold on power in public policy.

I hope some parents in school districts where Walker visits in the future decide to provide a little extra security for their schools.

Hey, libs. Persuade the voters and win an election. Cut out the Johnny Friendly nonsense.

BuckeyeSam on August 26, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Well, a representative of the Milwaukee branch of the Students for a Democratic Society tells the Journal-Sentinel that “We’re not going to let him go anywhere, especially in our community, without him being protested,”

Winning the hearts and minds of the people of Wisconsin

humdinger on August 26, 2011 at 1:04 PM

What, exactly, are these leftists protesting? The fact that the new budget saved cities money? And prevented layoffs of city workers? I’m so confused.

lorien1973 on August 26, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Heh. I don’t think most of the unionists even know what they’re protesting anymore. They just know they have to be angry because an EEEEEEVIL Republican is in office.

angryed on August 26, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Well, a representative of the Milwaukee branch of the Students for a Democratic Society tells the Journal-Sentinel that “We’re not going to let him go anywhere,

Gov. Walker probably isn’t going anywhere, after he is re-elected in 2014.

Steve Z on August 26, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Answer: The kind of manager who sells out his constituents in favor of his political allies.

… who in turn are selling out their own members. It’s like a matryoshka doll of buddy-f***ing.

DrSteve on August 26, 2011 at 1:14 PM

One can only hope that Madison schools continue their slide into the toi toi.

Mason on August 26, 2011 at 1:16 PM

This is what democracy ECONOMIC STIMULUS looks like.

steebo77 on August 26, 2011 at 12:13 PM

/MSNBC

mankai on August 26, 2011 at 1:22 PM

That vandalism is classic liberal thinking. Destruction and violence as a means of protest.Countenanced by the MSM.

pat on August 26, 2011 at 1:25 PM

i hope those folks go up to a teacher and say thank you for nothin……

cmsinaz on August 26, 2011 at 12:23 PM

THe next candidate for Mayor of Madison should use this in ads.

“If your car crashed on a slippery street, thank a Teacher and Mayor Cieslewicz.”

“If your home was burglarized or burned down, thank a Teacher and Mayor Cieslewicz.”

“If you lost your job as a firefighter or policeman, thank a Teacher and Mayor Cieslewicz.”

Even the La La Landers should get that message.

KW64 on August 26, 2011 at 1:25 PM

I, for one, love it when the left demonstrates their true nature. I just hope the ignorant left-of-center voters of Wisconsin finally start to understand the dynamic.

It’s hard; I know.

Jaibones on August 26, 2011 at 1:26 PM

First, Gov. Scott Walker had a scheduled visit to Messmer Preparatory School to read to kindergarteners today. Messmer is a Catholic school, a Choice school, that serves mostly inner-city children and most of them are African-American. A protestor super-glued the doors of the school shut in a (failed) attempt to thwart the visit, from 620WTMJ.com (the only local news outlet covering this story thus far, by the way):

Why do democrats hate black children?

CurtZHP on August 26, 2011 at 1:45 PM

I didn’t know the SDS was still around anymore.

Is this a mini-me group of the 60s protestors’ grandchildren? I can’t imagine that it has been a contiguous organization.

INC on August 26, 2011 at 1:49 PM

According to Br. Smith, one protester said ” ‘Get ready for a riot,’ because they were going to disrupt the visit.”

Br. Smith said that, in his opinion, the Republican governor’s visit to read to students there on Friday was not about political overtones connected to protests that have been happening all year in the state regarding the rollback of collective bargaining rights for many public workers.

Proof yet again of how much teachers’ unions care about our children’s education.

Socratease on August 26, 2011 at 1:56 PM

It was the worst of times which spawned the best of times.

As the economy continues to fail at the hands of the DOTUS and his minions, there will eventually be no choice but to reduce the government and unleash the private sector. It won’t be pretty, it won’t be fun but it will be worth it.

Jvette on August 26, 2011 at 2:19 PM

KW64 on August 26, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Well played, sir.

Jaibones on August 26, 2011 at 2:29 PM

It won’t be pretty, it won’t be fun …

Jvette on August 26, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Oh gosh…I don’t know.

Jaibones on August 26, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Whoever did it has no problem costing schools and school districts more money in order to keep their stranglehold on power in public policy.

We reap what we sow, don’t we?!

Frickin union a-holes.

capejasmine on August 26, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Madison’s image is contiually propped up by college graduates who conjure fond memories of their drunken stupors on State St, and by MS-MBC ‘Best of’ ratings articles. The climate is ok in the summer and winters are not as bad as northern Wisconsin.

But the place has been run by fools for forty-fifty years. Not only did Cieslewicz pad his union buddies pockets with fat contracts, he and many on the city council wanted to build a new $37 million dollar downtown libary. With over 20 libraries already on the downtown campus of UW Madison and sooo many people clamoring for printed media (tic), Cieslewicz’s plan was largely a glorified homeless shelter. The current mayor (The Red Mayor) Soglin, is as left as they come but he knows a little math and cannot get around the state of financial jihad that Cieslewicz left the city in.

Madison schools suck. If you plan to move here, figure your budget to include plenty of private tutors. Madison schools suck largely because Madison teachers suck. Someone would do the children of Madison a big favor if they’d superglue the doors on all Madison schools.

ignatzk on August 26, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Would it be possible to file a class action lawsuit against the WEA Trust for the overcharging (stealing) that they have done to virtually every single school district in Wisconsin all these years and years? I think that every single property tax payer in Wisconsin is due a refund.

Plus, I think that it would be a nice next step toward wiping out the NEA once and for all.

chromium on August 26, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Wow–SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) still exists?

bandarlog on August 26, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Why do democrats hate black children?

It does strike an interesting picture, doesn’t it? Trust me — my husband is friendly with Br. Smith, and Messmer does phenomenal things in Milwaukee’s inner city. The liberals have always disliked it precisely for its success (just as they dislike a primarily Hispanic Catholic school that does English immersion…something the parents demand & support). The sad part is, in some of their communities, the Messmer students are accused of “acting white” for getting a good education.

englishqueen01 on August 26, 2011 at 4:12 PM

“I wish he would help kids and not cut those programs that help them, rather than just reading a book chosen for him, and written by a progressive Massachusetts liberal like me.”

We have a couple of Yolen’s books, our kids like them. If this is her attitude towards Republicans…well, I won’t throw out the books we already have, but we won’t be buying any more of them either.

Kevin71 on August 26, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Also keep this in mind: What the Madison mayor did for his union buddies is exactly what Mark Begich did in Anchorage, Alaska before he left office. And, with a little help from his “friends” Begich became a US Senator. Yea, it works that way…just ask Ted Stevens.

ravens45 on August 26, 2011 at 4:59 PM

We have a couple of Yolen’s books, our kids like them. If this is her attitude towards Republicans…well, I won’t throw out the books we already have, but we won’t be buying any more of them either.

When you do, write her a letter explaining why.

Didn’t the Dixie Chicks take a similar, “Hey, if you don’t like our political views we don’t want you as fans!” approach? And didn’t it harm them financially and career-wise?

englishqueen01 on August 26, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Whoever did it has no problem costing schools and school districts more money in order to keep their stranglehold on power in public policy.

Especially since Messmer is a Catholic school system (independent of the Milwaukee Archdiocese since they closed the original high school in 1984). The system, when it was still just the high school, became the first religious school accepted into Wisconsin’s school choice program.

Steve Eggleston on August 26, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Unions are going down…

Wade on August 26, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Didn’t the Dixie Chicks take a similar, “Hey, if you don’t like our political views we don’t want you as fans!” approach? And didn’t it harm them financially and career-wise?

englishqueen01 on August 26, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Dixie Chix are so 1990’s

Wade on August 26, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Are there any adults, in the Democratic Party, in Wisconsin? The beauty of this is their behavior is being seen nationwide. Talk about damaging the “brand”, this has to be the dumbest behavior ever conducted by a losing political party and its members.

Personally, I hope they keep it up, there could be a landslide next year as Republicans are viewed as the only adults running. These Wisconsin Democrats had better get a handle on this or risk losing even more seats and losing them in such a way that a recall would be fruitless.

Vote Republican and only be called a racist one more time.

bflat879 on August 26, 2011 at 11:44 PM

Um, that’s terrorism, isn’t it? I fully expect the unions to take that step in big measure. They have done it before.

{^_^}

herself on August 27, 2011 at 3:06 AM