When I read on the front page of the New York Times about the toxicity in Wisconsin, I agree. We are tearing down our institutions, demonizing good people, and providing a very questionable example to our young people of what a democracy looks like.
It puzzles me why Walker, after the first set of recalls, didn’t put into the recall rules something more substantive than simply having a visceral disagreement with an elected official. He didn’t and so we are caught up in this statewide nightmare.
On the other hand, Walker signed the legislative actions passed shortly after his election which have allowed the state to get into a reasonable position to balance budgets; most municipalities and school boards would agree. Without them, local governments would be in deep financial trouble because their hands were tied. Milwaukee, in particular, would be seriously faltering. The recent video dust-up indicates some planning by Walker, but what the context was for the off-hand comments has not surfaced. The fact remains our local and state governments are not in huge debt or bankruptcy which is good for all citizens.
Barrett, Falk and Walker are all good people. They each have their own perspective on how to run government. However, the way some of them are participating in this recall nightmare is disappointing. They should trust the electorate which is more informed than many politicians give them credit for. Let the people speak their voice and indicate the direction they want their state to go.
The increasingly demonizing rhetoric hurts good people, diminishes decision-making at all government levels, increases wasteful spending, and has basically shut down the operation of government hurting all of our fine businesses, industries and communities.
In the service and construction business we are in, most of our customers are bulging at the seams. They’re beginning to spend but they are holding back. If the Walker agenda is to be reversed, we will experience a significant setback in the state. I don’t know whether the opponents of Walker have the fiscal understanding to gauge this. I would also ask are they listening to employers and caring about the best interest of the state.
We have had an urban business location in Milwaukee for fifty years. With the previous mayor, we had little to no property tax increases and reasonable service response. With our present mayor, in ten years our taxes have gone up eighty percent and city service is almost non-responsive. What we do get is a lot more building inspections and their accompanying fees. We don’t see a plan for this city.
I am led to believe that ninety percent of the employers feel the state is going in a positive direction. Unemployment, in spite of the demonizing, is 6.8% in Wisconsin (Bureau of Labor and Statistics March 2012).
What is the plan for Milwaukee’s future? Where are the union leaders who focus on the needs of their members and needs of who those their members serve? Some do-we need more! We have a great city and state – where are the political leaders who incorporate those attributes in their narratives. We have a County Executive who does!
Richard Pieper is the founding chief executive officer and chairman of PPC Partners in Milwaukee.