Friday, February 25, 2011

Ahh yes, Civility

I have been informed, gentle readers, that there was a meeting last night in Fountain Park to oppose Governor Walker's bill. The Sheboygan Press article talks about the union people who were there, but they neglected to cover one of the uglier aspects of that meeting.

I have learned, that the people at this rally were being encouraged and instructed on how to incite violence at rallies around the state tomorrow. This is abhorrent.

If the unions think that by bullying the people of WI, they can get what they want, then they had best prepare to be painted as the violent hooligans they are. What part of "There is no more money" don't you understand?

My fellow patriots, be alert, be responsible and above all, do not allow yourselves to be baited into violence. If there is to be violence let it be among those who are promoting it only. Better yet, show your support for the governor and legislature by staying away from these rallies and calling or e-mailing your support to the governor and your legislators.

We are better than that. And if, as I suspect, those advising and pushing violence are out of state agitators, may I ask that those of our fellow citizens who were listening, soundly reject their calls to violence, out of self respect if nothing else. This is Wisconsin, not Egypt. You are citizens before you are union members. A free and independent people should not need to resort to violence to settle our legislative differences.

"The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth." ~ Psalm 11:5

Thursday, February 24, 2011

FAQ's about the budget repair bill answered by Sen. Leibham

This is the text of an e-mail I received from Sen. Leibham. I am sure that he is doing his best to provide a timely response to the many e-mails he has received over this legislation. I thought it might be a good idea to post his answers here for those who do not care to read the actual bill or who find themselves confused over the wording contained therein.

"By State Senator Joe Leibham

February 24, 2011

~ Information on Senate Bill 11 ~

Governor Scott Walker has unveiled a proposal that seeks to provide local government elected officials (city council members, school board members, etc.) with the authority to make decisions regarding most issues related to the people they employ. In addition, the plan would specifically require most government employees, including myself, to pay a greater portion of health care premium costs and half of the annual contribution to pension/retirement plans. Governor Walker believes these changes are necessary so that state and local elected officials will have all the tools needed to best manage upcoming budgets that will receive less state aid due to our ongoing budget crisis and economic slow down.

Without a doubt, the Governor’s proposal (officially known as Special Session Senate Bill 11) has created an historic level of interest and concern. It has been an amazing week as tens of thousands of citizens from our state (and now on a daily basis – more and more people from across the nation) have decided to participate in the law making process by sharing input with their government, protesting or demonstrating in public rallies. While things have gotten a little intense at times, overall this has been a positive experience.

The amount of input provided to me and questions asked has also been amazing. Thousands of district residents have called, e-mailed, or visited with me personally to discuss the bill, ask questions, and share their thoughts both in support and opposition. While I have tried my hardest to return calls, meet with people personally, and respond to e-mails, the sheer volume has been a challenge to manage. I appreciate everyone’s patience as I work to read and respond while managing all of my legislative responsibilities.

Many of the contacts have included questions about the bill. In an effort to provide answers, below I have attempted to summarize the major questions raised and provide factual information regarding specific provisions in the bill:

Will existing public employee contracts be impacted by the provisions in this bill? Existing employee contracts cannot and will not be impacted by the bill. The provisions included in the bill will only go into effect after an existing contract comes to an end.

What is required in the bill regarding contributions to state pension plans? State, school district, and municipal employees that are members of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) would be required to contribute 50% of their annual pension payment. The payment amount for WRS employees is estimated to be 5.8% of salary in 2011.

What is required in the bill regarding contributions for health insurance? State employees would be required to pay at least 12.6 percent of the average cost of annual health insurance premiums. Local employers participating in the Public Employers Group Health Insurance Plan would be prohibited from paying more than 88% of the lowest cost plan. Local government employers who use other health insurance plans or are self-insured would be able to set the contribution rate and the subject would be prohibited from the process of collective bargaining.

Will legislators and the Governor be required to participate in these changes to health care and pension contributions? All elected officials including legislators and the Governor will be required as of April 1, 2011 to make these contributions for health care and pensions. For elected officials the pension contribution is estimated to be 6.65% of salary in 2011.

Will public employees still be allowed to form unions? Public employees will still be allowed to form unions. An annual vote will be required to maintain certification as a union, and dues would be collected by the unions, not by the employer.

What will happen to the process of collective bargaining? The process of collective bargaining would continue for the establishment of the base wage for represented public employees.

Will there be caps on base pay? Base wage increases could not exceed increases in the consumer price index (CPI) unless approved by a referendum.

What will happen to items like overtime, premium pay, merit pay performance pay, pay schedules and automatic pay progressions? These items will be determined by the local employer (school board, local municipality, county board, etc.).

What will happen to various workplace rules that are currently bargained for collectively? At the local level these items will be managed and approved by the local employer. For state employees, work place rules would be developed by Office of State Employment Relations and approved by the legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations.

What workplace protections will remain for public employees after passage of the bill? Wisconsin’s Civil Service System (WCSS) will not be changed by the bill. WCSS is a system for hiring, retaining, and promoting employees based on an objective assessment of their qualifications and ability to do their work. The system that has been in place since 1905 is grounded on two cornerstones: hiring decisions are merit based, and removal from service must be based on just cause. An employee cannot be discharged, suspended, or demoted except for just cause. The system includes two processes under which a public employee can pursue a grievance against their employer. The first is through the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission and is found in Wisconsin Stats s. 230.44. You can view this statute by visiting:

Matters which affect an employee’s condition of employment are covered by a grievance procedure found in chapter ER 46 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code:

In addition, the bill now requires, per an amendment I sponsored, that a local government employer either adopt the WCSS or establish a grievance system that covers at least all of the following: (a) a grievance procedure that addresses employee terminations; (b) employee discipline; and (c) workplace safety.

If a local governmental unit creates a grievance procedure under these provisions, the procedure must contain at least all of the following elements: (a) a written document specifying the process that a grievant and an employer must follow; (b) a hearing before an impartial hearing officer; and (c) an appeal process in which the highest level of appeal is the governing body of the local governmental unit.

Are law enforcement officers exempt from the provisions of the bill? Fire fighters, law enforcement officers, and members of the State Patrol are exempted from the provisions in the bill.

How many votes will be required to vote this bill out of the Senate? The state constitution requires twenty (3/5’s of the total members) senators present for the vote to take place, but only 17 votes (a simply majority of the total members) for the bill to pass.

As the legislative process and deliberation continues on this bill, I am hopeful this factual information will be helpful.

It is an honor representing the residents of the 9th District in the State Senate!


Joe Leibham
State Senator
9th District"
I have omitted the contact information for the Senator because, I am assuming his constituents already have it, and if others want his time, they can invest a little time in research to find it for themselves.

"Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." ~ Psalm 25:5

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Glen Grothman speaks on Gov. Walker's Budget repair bill.

After the showing of the movie "The Cartel" by the Sheboygan Liberty Coalition on Monday, Senator Glenn Grothman arrived to speak and answer questions for the audience. He was running a little late because of the snow, and was subjected to (what I have been told was) somewhat hostile questioning from people who are not even his constituents. but he graciously allowed the questions. For an account of that, I recommend you visit Soapbox Jill's blog as I had a prior commitment and had to leave when he had finished his remarks.

What follows are the videos of Senator Grothman's remarks on:

The budget repair bill

Collective Bargaining, Badgercare and Medicaid

4K kindergarten and head start

Finishing of remarks and beginning of questions

"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."~Proverbs 15:1

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Alexandrea Merrell Show

Just a quick note: I will be on the first part of the The Aleaxandrea Merrell Show tonight at 9:00pm CST on blog talk radio.
Alexandrea is the author of Rules for Republican Radicals and her new book, Civics is just out within the last few weeks.For more info on Alexandrea, you can check out her website:

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
~ Proverbs 27:6

Teachers Union Protests for Fun in Sheboygan

The Liberty Coalition of Sheboygan started planning to show the movie "The Cartel" about a month and a half ago. Apparently frustrated by their lack of ability to be where the action is in Madison, the Sheboygan arm of the Wisconsin teachers union decided to protest and picket the showing of this movie. They certainly have the right to exercise their freedom of speech in this way, however I think it was just taking advantage of an event that had been scheduled before these protests broke out.

Upon arriving at the mead library for the showing of the movie, I was greeted by the sight of maybe 100 to 150 protesters standing in front of the library doors chanting and drumming. They were being led in the chants by a woman who would yell "tell me what democracy looks like". Then the crowd would chance back "this is what democracy looks like". I have to agree with them. Democracy by its very nature is the mob rule. This is why our founders gave us a Republic.

The following movie was taken while walking the gauntlet to get into the library. I'm not saying that the protesters were angry or threatening in any way other than the fact that they constituted a fairly large crowd and that's a little intimidating, which is the point of such protests. I found it a little odd that there were so many outside protesting who then came inside to watch the very movie they were protesting against.

The Roca room in the library had about 80 to 100 people, many of whom had brought their signs in with them. There was a very obvious police presence outside of the library as you can see in the video and there was a cameraman from TMJ 4 both outside and inside after the movie. The head of the Sheboygan Liberty Coalition, Oriannah Paul, announced the code of conduct for the movie. There were basically three rules, your signs must be placed so that they are not obstructing the view of others; you may not speak out unless you're recognized; and please silence cell phones and pagers.

The Cartel is a documentary by Bob Bowdon that takes a look at the role of unions in the school district of New Jersey. It basically details the huge amount of waste in school district's spending in New Jersey. Or at least it's assumed to be waste because, even though they spend the highest amount per student of any state in the nation, they have some of the worst results. Their eighth graders were 39% proficient in reading and 40% proficient in math. There is also a very high dropout rate.

The film compared the average cost of teachers salaries($50,000 plus benefits)to the average cost per classroom($300-400,000, and asked the question:"Where is the rest of the money going?" The conclusion was that the money was going to unions, unneeded facilities upgrades and unnecessary layers of administration and bureaucracy. There was a huge amount of corruption shown. The film also concluded that schools are big business for unions and others, because everybody wants their children to be well educated and not many people are paying attention to where the money is going.

When the movie presented an account of a teacher who was prevented by union rules from volunteering her time to do an extracurricular activity after school hours with the students, a parent in front of me leaned over to her daughter and whispered "That's not true". I don't know how she reached that conclusion. The account was almost certainly true and I have heard similar accounts from teachers in WI.

The bottom line of the film is that communities need to be aware of how their money is being spent and hold feet to the fire when funds are being misused. (Those feet can belong to the unions, the school's administrative bodies and/or legislators.)At least that's the message I got from it. Clearly, I was a minority in that conclusion as most of the teachers and union people present seemed to think the film was being shown as propaganda just to make them look bad.

This is one of the problems with holding onto an ideology without regard to the facts. I sincerely doubt that the teachers union would have shown up to protest this movie had it not been for the budget protests going on in Madison right now. That's why I labeled this post as I did. There seemed to be little regard on the part of the teachers for the facts presented in the film. I can understand disregarding statistics(the third kind of lie), but ignoring facts in favor of feeling hard done by because it makes the ideology or organization you claim as your own look bad, is denial.

One of the attendees remarked to those around her:"Why is it okay for corporations to have it[collective bargaining] and not us?" Because, as the film stated, the party paying the bills(the taxpayers)is often not being represented at the bargaining table in a public union situation.

When a private corporation sits down to bargain with their union, they all know a number of fixed facts. The cost of materials, the number of hours required for production, shipping costs, building maintenance, and etc, needed to produce whatever is produced. They know how much their sales are likely to be and how much they can and cannot raise prices to meet their costs. In other words, the money available to pay for all the necessary steps of production is a fixed amount and there must be a certain percentage of profit obtained or there's no reason to have a business.

When the unions are dealing with a government, those numbers are a lot more fluid. There seems to be an assumption that if the union demands more, the government can simply raise taxes and the money for those increases will fall out of the sky. That is the difference.

That may have appeared to be true in years past, but now it is crunch time. Taxes are as high as the people will bear and prices on goods and services are going up. This is the showdown that is occurring in WI and across the nation. This is not the taxpayer telling the public employees that they are bad people or that they don't deserve to be compensated with a specific amount, but rather that there is no more money available to pay more taxes. If that means that these public sector employees feel that they must seek employment that will pay them better, then so be it.

The taxpayers of WI are not trying to denigrate the public workers, we are simply saying this is how much we can pay right now. There isn't any more and no amount of protesting is going to make more appear. Do what is best for you. If you can't afford to work for us anymore, then best of luck to you in your new position, whatever it is and we will look for those who can afford to work for what we can offer.

"And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."~ Luke 3:14

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Maritime Sentry: Democrats Side With Unions Over Taxpayers - UPDATE...

The Maritime Sentry: Democrats Side With Unions Over Taxpayers - UPDATE...: "We have now learned that Democratic State Senators are refusing to come to the floor to vote on Gov. Walker's budget fix. The Assembly Democ..."

"...I have received two emails from staff in the Capital building both reporting the same thing, that police have advised them to lock their doors. Large groups of protesters are screaming and baning loud drums inside the building. Other protesters are banging on the glass windows. One of the emailers has asked for prayers for the state. I can think of nothing more needed right now."
Please read the rest of this excellent post at The Maritime Sentry

An open letter to Senate Democrats from one WI Mom

Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen,

You were elected to vote.

  • Not to run out on your responsibilities like teenagers pulling a prank.
  • Not to run up expensive resort bills on the taxpayer's dime while you do so.
  • Not to make our lovely state the laughingstock of the nation.
  • And certainly not to leave our beautiful Capital building at the mercy of out-of-state hooligans brought in to act as Union Enforcers against the people of Wisconsin.

    You may not like it that your vote will not change the outcome. That does not change your duty. You were elected to vote. I suggest, that you put your behinds back on that bus, get yourselves back to the floor of the legislature in Madison and do your jobs.

    May I further suggest that you take up a collection amongst yourselves to pay the bills for the resort and the bus, so as to avoid further burdening the hardworking taxpayers of WI and shaming your electorates any further.

    Your behavior is outrageous.

    "The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.

    Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest. "~ Micah 3:11-12

Monday, February 14, 2011

Budget Repair

Update: The situation continues to worsen.
  • Democratic legislators have vacated the capitol in the hopes of preventing a vote.
  • The governor has instructed that police to look for them and bring them back.
  • The DNC and Organizing for America(Mr. Obama's replacement for ACORN) are busing in out of state protesters to add to an already strident situation. (There's a demonstration of civility and common sense-add to the danger of the situation by adding outside agitators to the mix.)
  • Protesters have apparently gotten onto the Senate floor.
  • Teachers across the state are calling in sick.
  • Former Senate candidate Dave Westlake is calling for a I Stand With Governor Walker rally at the capitol on Saturday.
  • Rush Limbaugh has called Madison WI, "Moscow West"
  • The Socialists have chimed in for the unions.
  • Mr. Obama has chimed in with his two cents worth, saying Governor Walker shouldn't have turned down the train money. (And exactly how would that have helped this situation? Unless it is Mr. Obama's contention that Mr. Walker should continue the shady accounting practices of former Gov. Doyle and have surreptitiously allocated some of that money to the general fund to make the budget look better.)
  • Mr. Obama has also said that Gov. Walker's bill seems like an assault on unions. Perhaps if the members of the state employee unions hadn't spent their time over the last several years alternately whining that they aren't paid enough and bragging to the rest of us that they had lifetime security in their jobs with no worries about health care or retirement thanks to their wonderful state jobs, we might agree. As it is, not so much.

It is time for the state union employees to remember that they are citizens first and union members second. If they had reigned in their unions demands, the governor wouldn't have to. As it is, they just seem greedy, selfish and power-mad. In these days of media inspired politics, that's not the message they should want to have out there. They could have stepped up to the plate and said we offer these reductions to the state out of a wish to remain consistent in our duty as citizens to keep this state fiscally solvent.

We're all in this together. They chose to continue business as usual. This is not a republican or democrat issue. this is a common sense issue. When there is no more money, the belt must be tightened and luxuries let go.

The Wisconsin legislature will be debating the merits of governor Walker's plan to repair the budget tomorrow and Wednesday. There's been quite a bit of coverage on this plan, and much of that coverage has been negative.

Unions, for a long time, have been dictating terms of employment for many, many people, not just in the state, but in the nation. I have written in the past that it is high time that the unions were reminded that they are made up of people. People whose first priorities, as far as employment goes, need to remember that, unless there's a job available, they will be unemployed. People who need to remember that they are citizens first and union members second.

In Wisconsin, the state's union workers have had about the best benefit package available anywhere, except those offered for Federal gov't workers. They will not find much sympathy for being forced to contribute to their own retirements, much less for being forced to pay a fairly low percentage of their own Health Insurance when compared to private sector workers.

There will undoubtedly be news stories covering the plight of the poor union workers forced, forced I say, to contribute in this way to their own benefits. The facts are, as Governor Walker stated, that there is no more money. The taxpayers have no more pennies to contribute to any more largesse that might be demanded in a collective bargaining agreement with these workers. The money simply isn't there.

Not only are there no more pennies to contribute to more benefits for these union workers employed by the state, but there is no more tolerance on the part of the people of the state for watching government workers whine about benefits that the private sector cannot afford to offer.

To their credit, I have seen many comments on articles, from state union workers who support Governor Walker in this effort. Many of them are also resentful that they have been forced to be part of the union in order to have these jobs. These are the people who understand what governments service is about. These are the people who understand that they are citizens first and employees second.

The state unions will be busing people to the capitol in Madison tomorrow and Wednesday, in an attempt to communicate to our legislators their strong disapproval of this action on the part of Governor Walker. AFP will also be busing people to the state capitol in Madison tomorrow and Wednesday, in an attempt to support the governor in his attempts to rein in the spending and to restore fiscal sanity to the state of Wisconsin.

My guess is that there will be more union members than regular citizens. Mostly because regular citizens from the private sector will not be able to take off work for the day to go down to Madison and be part of a demonstration. That does not mean however, that private sector employees and other citizens cannot make a difference in this debate.

This is one of those opportunities to exercise good citizenship by contacting your state legislators and giving them your opinion. It only takes a few minutes to call and your legislators will appreciate the input on what is sure to be a highly publicized vote. This is how participatory governments are supposed to work. Participate by calling your legislators and letting them know what you think, politely please. Remember, the aides who are answering the phone are not doing the voting. Call the legislative hotline at: 1-800-362-9472. Ask for your legislator. You'll be asked where you live, and transferred to the office of one of your legislators whether it be a senator or an assembly person. I would recommend that you make note of who your legislators are, and have your call directed from one to the next.

Citizenship in a free and independent Republic is a personal duty and a demonstration that we are worthy of the freedoms we have been given in this nation.

"So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." ~ Luke 17:10

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why only the GOP?

"Keep the pressure on the GOP" "Fractures in the GOP" "We need you to call the GOP members of the House Rules Committee..."

Why am I only receiving alerts to call the GOP and hold their feet to the fire? Aren't all of our Congressmen and women supposed to be doing what is right for this nation? Do we think that those supported by the Democratic party or the independents are so far lost to reason that communication is not even possible?

Or have we just given up?

I ask that because, the last time I checked, there is still a democratic majority in the Senate. So, unless some of those democrats are brought to reason, this is all a losing battle. There's no reason to exclude democrats from those calls, they need to hear from us too. What they do affects us all, so don't be discouraged by the fact that you may not be a member of this one or that one's constituency. If you have valid points to make for why they should vote a certain way for the good of the nation, they need to hear from you.

Beyond that, this goes directly to the heart of why Mr. Washington warned us against adopting a party system of politics. The people we elect to these offices are to be doing what is right for the nation, not voting according to party lines.

It's shameful that we have a situation where pundits can predict the success or failure of a piece of legislation by counting up votes along party lines. This is NOT how our system is supposed to work. Call your congressman or woman, by all means, but don't refuse to call them or committee members simply because of their party affiliation.

"And he said, Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. " ~ Gen 18:32

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What to do About Egypt?

That seems to be the big question. Here's the answer. Support freedom and stand for our values.

That may be harder than it seems. First of all, who in Egypt is fighting for freedom? What do they mean by freedom? Is it the same thing we mean, when we discuss freedom here in the US? I don't think it is. Freedom here includes freedom of speech and religion and a number of other things that would be unthinkable to the followers of Islam. Since Islam is the majority religion in Egypt, it seems likely then, that the people in Egypt, demonstrating for "freedom", do not mean that same thing by it that Americans would.

Secondly, what are our values? Christian values are criticized left and right. We are told that the founders of this nation were not Christians at all, but by and large deists. (A deist is someone who believes there is a god or gods, but who does not subscribe to any particular religion.) The fact that this is untrue, as can be seen by a cursory study of the founders writings, doesn't seem to matter, since the lie is now so well known.

(The truth, in my opinion, is that unless we once again embrace the values of Christianity, we are lost as a nation. But that's not the point of this post.)

If we say, for the sake of argument, that our values are Christian values, then we have somewhere to go with Egypt. Just as individuals will behave differently around those who espouse certain standards of behavior, so too will nations.

There is nothing wrong with telling Egypt or the world that we support the kind of freedom that we want for ourselves and that we will act according to our values. If they don't want to deal with us under those terms, then we won't deal with whatever government ends up in power.

The biggest problem here is the question raised above: What are our values? Without a concrete set of consistent values, we have no place to stand in the world. We will constantly be defending ourselves from propaganda and hypocrisy charges. That's a reasonable response to an individual or a nation that is not consistent.

We have become a nation also of moral relativity. This gives us no place to stand. It allows us to look the other way when someone cheats us or is rude or a bully. Christian values demand that we confront such behavior within the law.

This is one of the things that enrages so many liberals/progressives about our nation. Perhaps because they believe that by standing on those values, we are de facto conquering the world. Where are the conservatives to speak up and tell them that it is within the rights of those sovereign nations to change to our system if they want to?

The Christian values that formed this nation have been so wildly successful that, of course, other nations will want to adopt them for themselves. Why wouldn't they? And who are we to insist that they not?

If the people of Egypt want to adopt Christian values and the same kind of freedom that we expect here, then we should welcome them as a trading partner in the world with open arms. If they want to adopt a more repressive Islamist government, then we should restrict our dealings with them. That doesn't mean we need to do anything beyond communicating our intentions to the world.

Of course, that would be seen as nation building and bullying by the progressives/liberals. But they would be wrong. It is no more bullying to avoid those of unpleasant character in one's daily life than it is character building to let those same unpleasant individuals abuse you because you have no rational reason to deny them. After all, that may be what they see as good behavior, who are you to dispute it?

Perhaps we cannot expect nations to behave as individuals. Perhaps my analysis is quite incorrect and we should be busily interfering in Egypt. Promoting this individual and undermining that one. In my opinion, that is not consistent with the values of this nation. But then, I tend to think the values of this nation are and should be Christian values, even if you are not a Christian yourself.

What kind of hypocrisy are we practicing when we insist we want Egypt or any other nation to adopt one form of government over another when we, ourselves refuse to adhere to our own founding standards? When other nations look to us for the example of how a nation of free and independent people ought to conduct themselves and all we do is shrug our shoulders and say, "I dunno, does it feel right? Then do it." That's not how this nation became great and we do ourselves and the world a disservice by allowing it to be the case on our watch.

"And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. "~ 1 Sam 2:35