Tell it like it is …

A Donkey and an Elephant walk into a Wisconsin bar …

Elephant: “Hey Donkey. What’s the matter? You look troubled.”
Donkey: “Well, I’m just thinking about all those thousands of people protesting in the square.”

Elephant: “I know. I sure hope the Egyptian people figure out what they’re going to do next.”
Donkey: “I was talking about Madison. Gov. Scott Walker introduced a bill that would strip all public employees in Wisconsin — from teachers and nurses to snowplow drivers — of their right to collectively bargain for sick leave, vacation and even the hours they work.”

Elephant: “Well, there’s a new sheriff in town. Those public employees have been living high off the hog for too long. It’s time they pay for their fair share of their health care and retirement plans like everyone else.”
Donkey: “That’s not the point. Their salaries and their benefits should be negotiated with their employer. Like any other union workers. That’s the way the system works.”
Elephant: “You mean the way it used to work.”

Donkey: “And then for Walker to come out and say he has put the National Guard on call in case the public employees act up was an absolute insult. It was an immature and unnecessary cheap shot.”
Elephant: “Well, public safety is important.”

Donkey: “There’s something very smelly about this whole thing. Notice that local police, fire departments and the State Patrol are excluded from this union massacre. Hmmm. The Milwaukee Police Association, the West Allis Professional Police Association, the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters and the Wisconsin Troopers Association all supported Walker’s election. And they skate free. Then Walker appoints Steve Fitzgerald, the father of Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, to be the superintendent of the State Patrol. Connect the dots. I guess you have to pay to play with this administration.”
Elephant: “Well, duh. The previous administration appointed a Teamster as his Secretary of Transportation.”
Donkey: “Got me there.”

Elephant: “Bartender, we’ll have another. I’m buying this round.”
Donkey: “Thanks. Speaking of buying, the thing that gets lost in all of this is that these public employees are real Wisconsin residents with real Wisconsin families. They are our neighbors. They get paid living wages and they spend that money and they help drive the local economy.”

Elephant: “The problem is that the people who pay their wages with taxes can’t afford to pay them anymore. We’re broke, you Donkey. Everyone else has had to tighten their belts.”
Donkey: “Look, let’s just call this what it is. This is all part of a ruse to kill the union movement in Wisconsin once and for all.”
Elephant: “Not a ruse at all. Scott Walker said all along there would be big changes coming.”
Donkey: “He’s over-reaching. He was elected governor, not king.”
Elephant: “President Ronald Reagan got away with it.”
Donkey: “No! Reagan fired the air traffic controllers AFTER they went on strike illegally. Some of Walker’s cuts might even jeopardize federal aid to the state. Federal transportation aid ‘requires the continuation of collective bargaining rights, and protection of transit employees’ wages, working conditions, pension benefits, seniority, vacation, sick and personal leave, travel passes, and other conditions of employment.’ That means that cuts to transportation workers, i.e. bus drivers, probably won’t stand.”

Elephant: “We’ll see. You people just don’t get it. We’re broke. The state has a $137 million budget deficit, and it’s only going to get worse. There is no money. The party’s over. Deal with it.”
Donkey: “We all know the politics behind this. The unions support Democrats. Always have. Republicans now have both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion. And they’re going to turn Wisconsin into the reddest of the red states. Walker is turning Wisconsin into Texas. He’s moving Wisconsin backward, not forward.”

Elephant: “Elections have consequences.”
Donkey: “On that we can agree.”


Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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