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Governor Walker is apparently proposing state legislation that would require drug testing of welfare applicants. Is his logic that those who would receive state money deserve testing to prove they are drug free? If so, how about those receiving pay from the state, like himself and legislators? What about the rich who are receiving tax breaks for their businesses? What about taxpayers who receive tax deductions on their state income taxes? What about investors, big and small, who receive tax breaks?
Either Walker and his people have no idea what they are doing, or they believe that the state has some special power to deny state benefits to an unfortunate subset of the population because of lifestyle decisions, to the exclusion of that censure on others who the state chooses to favor. While, wearing a blindfold, some may see his proposals as a “social benefit,” the fact is that it is an undemocratic, prejudicial proposal that would indecently subject the weakest members of the state economy to a state-ordered litmus test that spares those who are simply better off.
That’s right, DirecTV and Comedy Central have broken off negotiations over renewing their 7 year-old contract, over money, and so viewers of the Daily Show, the funniest, best and just about only candid and honest political TV news show on the air, will no longer get the program if they subscribe to DirecTV, like we do in Wisconsin.
If you, or someone you know and like, subscribes to DirecTV, or has any mercy on those who do, go online NOW to DirecTV and Comedy Central and tell them to grow up and settle their differences, or we’ll just have to sit out this election!
Last night, I witnessed, along with more than 150 other agitated citizens, a City Council meeting in the small Wisconsin resort town of Lake Geneva, where the mayor and aldermen, including two women, “entertained” with a stylized Kabuki performance in which the local government’s secret greed for geographic growth was pushed into the open through challenges by dozens of local citizen speakers intent on restraining such growth urges and preserving the small-town character of their community.
At issue was a massive 710-acre partially wooded rural site, a major watershed into pristine Geneva Lake, with important wetlands, adjacent to a State Park, which separates the site from the rest of Lake Geneva. The property had been purchased from local farmers by a developer more than a decade ago. He tried to get it rezoned for residential building by the Town of Linn. Failing that, he urged the land be annexed by the City of Lake Geneva, where he thought he’d get a better development deal. But when he property was annexed, and the developer came forward with plans for more than a thousand homes and a golf course community, the citizenry balked, and opposed such a massive development that would over time almost double the size of their city. Plans were revised, but the city council rejected the project, under increasing pressure from it citizenry.
Last night, dozens of the citizens present spoke out, with passion, intelligence and even rhetorical brilliance, on the need to protect and preserve this land in a natural state, for a variety of environmental reasons and to constrain the long-term growth of their small lakeside community. The City Council listened to hour after hour of such heart-felt testimony, then quickly moved to a vote, with most of the council members saying nary a word. One alderman had the courage, at the last-minute, to point a finger at the mayor, suggesting that an under-the-counter deal had been made with the developer. to drop a $120 million law suit against the city claiming it had unfairly blocked the developer, in exchange for a vote to remap the land from rural holding (meaning 20 years — a generation — before residential development could be considered) to residential. Such remapping would be the first step in rezoning the land to allow housing development. The city’s corporation counsel hushed the nervous alderman.
The citizens argued that the community’s Comprehensive Master Plan, adopted less than 18 months ago, requires the land to remain rural. The City Council seemed to view their own master plan as being just as irrelevant as they viewed the citizen speaker opinions. The City Council chose to ignore a previous community referendum which had overwhelmingly turned down the proposed development.
The dance played out, as choreographed by the City Council. After the mayor mumbled that the city, which currently already has 1100 other approved residential development sites, at a time when nothing is being developed, must plan for the future, and have an area to grow, the council voted to let its small town character slip away, delivering on its decade-old secret promise to give the developer exactly what he wanted. It was nearly midnight when the dejected citizens could go home, having witnessed a performance that left them further ashamed of and estranged from their community’s government.
This dance may be over, but the play continues.
A visit to Black Point Estate is a high point of any visit to historic Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. The well-preserved house, standing high on a wooded bluff on the south shore of the 21-mile circumference lake was built by a Chicago beer baron in 1888 as a summer home for his family. Original furnishings and decor make the house feel like it should be in the Smithsonian museum. For information on how to visit Black Point by water or land, go to their website: http://www.blackpointpreserve.org/ The lakefront grounds of Black Point are permanently protected by a conservation easement jointly held by the Geneva Lake Conservancy and the house association.
I don’t vote in Wisconsin, but I own a home, spend a lot of time and care about the people here — after all, my grandfather was one of the local citizens who bailed out the Green Bay Packers in the 1920s. So, why is Walker wrong?
Yes these are tough economic conditions to address, and “shared sacrifice,” as Walker calls it, is called for to address state budget issues. BUT, Walker recently passed more than $100 million in new tax breaks for business, then turns around and asks to help make up for that by cutting the benefits and future negotiating power of the unions representing certain state employees. Of course he exempts the fire and police unions that supported his election campaign, but nails those, including the teachers unions, that didn’t. That is vindictive politics all right, but it’s also asking chronically under-compensated teachers to give up current and future compensation, just when we need better education more than ever. Meanwhile, highly compensated business owners wallow in new tax breaks.
How dumb, how vindictive, how peevishly political, how shortsighted can a so-called leader be! If the Democrats are substantially behind organizing the teachers and other state employees to occupy Madison to make their plight known statewide and nationally, at least their efforts are transparent, while Walker threatens behind the scenes to slash state jobs if those protesting don’t back off and encourage Democrat legislators to cave in.