Scott Walker

The Revenge of the Blob

John Stossel at RealClearPolitics writes again about the intransigence of teacher unions in opposing any reform at all.

I wrote recently how teachers unions, parent-teacher associations and school bureaucrats form an education “Blob” that makes it hard to improve schools. They also take revenge on those who work around the Blob.

Here’s one more sad example:

Ben Chavis, founder and principal of the American Indian Public Charter Schools, got permission to compete with the Blob in Oakland, Calif. Chavis vowed, “We’ll outperform the other schools in five years.” He did. Kids at the three schools he runs now have some of the highest test scores in California.

His schools excel even though the government spends less on them.

But Chavis paid his wife to do accounting work, rented property to his schools and didn’t follow all of the Blob’s rules. So last month, the Oakland School Board said it might close the schools.

Parents and students begged the Blob — pardon me, the school board — not to. One sobbing mother pleaded with the board: “As soon as (my son) goes to this school, he’s a top student. … And now you guys want to take that away from me.” Many students implored, “Please don’t close down our school!”

The school board voted to close the schools anyway.  Read more »

Dealing with Public Sector Unions

California is in terrible trouble, their budget deficit is eye-wateringly large and many of their cities are broke too. Yet the politicians refuse to face up to their responsibilities. Much of the blame for the parlous state of the finances is being laid squarely at the feet of the public sector unions and their excesses and abuses of the taxpayer’s pocket.

National here needs to address the excesses of the PSA and other unions, in particular the various teacher unions who seem to think that it is their role to engage in general politics rather than focus on issues for their members:

Wisconsin’s Progressive political tradition rivals California’s, which only highlights the disparity between the two states as California’s leaders refuse to even acknowledge fiscal reality, let alone confront it in a serious way. Walker and his reforms were sparked by a $3.6 billion budget deficit, which is a rounding error in California budget terms. But his understanding of the core issue—the abuses perpetrated by the privileges and greed of public sector unions—may have stemmed as his stint as county executive in Democratic Milwaukee County, where he had to clean up an ugly pension scandal where government workers were granting themselves outrageous bonuses.

Wrote Bruce Murphy in the Madison alternative weekly called the Isthmus, “In the bitter aftermath of the failed recall, there will be many blaming a vast right-wing conspiracy, out-of-state billionaires like the Koch brothers, and Gov. Scott Walker’s polarizing, take-no-prisoners style. But Democrats and unions might want to take a look in the mirror. For it was their willingness to abuse government benefits—with sweetheart deals benefiting only a minority of workers—that led directly to defeat.”

So why isn’t National doing this?

ᔥ The Atlantic

The Republicans have a stack of candidates lined up for 2016, and the primary will be bloody good. On the other side there is just doubt.

“Whew, man, that’s a tough one,” said Jeanette Baust, a 55-year-old educator and activist from Denver who was attending the progressive conference along with her partner, Evelyn Hanssen. “I guess I’d have to say Elizabeth Warren if she can get elected.” What about Colorado’s Democratic senators, Michael Bennet* and Mark Udall, and governor, John Hickenlooper? The women didn’t think they had national potential.

The bench of up-and-coming talent in the Republican Party is an instructive contrast. A recent straw-poll ballot for vice presidential choices at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago featured 22 names, from retreads like Newt Gingrich to fresh faces like Rubio to newly minted political stars like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Nine major Republican candidates participated in this year’s presidential primary, and while it was seen as a weak field overall, Republicans dismayed by the spectacle of Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain as momentary front-runners comforted themselves by contemplating the party’s many future stars in the Senate, House, and governorships. Many of those rising stars, like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and Virginia’s Bob McDonnell , have already begun building relationships with their party’s national base by appearing at party events outside their home states or on the busy circuit of conservative activist conferences.

The Democrats might have a shallow talent pool in 2016 but they are building.

Many Democrats acknowledge the looming talent gap and give the GOP credit for its candidate recruitment and training in recent years. They are trying to match that effort down the line: Numerous sessions at the Take Back conference focused on candidate development at the minor-league level, informed in part by state-level controversies that have recently made national news, from the recent Wisconsin recall to numerous states’ abortion-ultrasound bills. Even as they had trouble coming up with names for 2016, many at the conference were eager to tout up-and-coming candidates currently incubating at the state legislative or congressional-contender level.

The big thing is the Republicans have invested heavily in “down ticket” or “farm” candidates, the people that do the work getting elected at local or state level, and are training to take the step up. The last twenty years has seen a massive number of Republicans get elected on school boards, local councils, to their state congress or senate, other state positions, and build name recognition, campaign teams and donor networks that let them take a step up. More farm or down ticket candidates coming through mean more potential governors, senators or congressmen.

The Republicans have spent twenty years doing this.

So what has National done? Anything at all to help people win down ticket races? Training up local government candidates? Supporting the de facto National C&R and iCitz? Stopping stupid rebrands that mean nothing because organisations are competent to begin with? Helping these organisations become competent to get more good down ticket candidates?

Did money buy Wisconsin’s result?

ᔥ Mischiefs of Action

The left wing is whinging that Scott Walker raised and spent much more than their guy and as a result he bought the election. This of course ignores the money spent on behalf of the Democrat candidate by the big monied unions.

So did big money buy Wisconsin’s election…the short answer is no.

What this election gave us is a rare and precious thing: a gubernatorial rematch. Walker and Barrett faced each other less than two years ago. Walker beat Barrett by five points back then, after raising $11 million to Barrett’s $6 million. That is, Walker raised 65% of the funds raised by the Republican and Democratic candidates that year and he won 53% of the two-party vote. This week, Walker raised about 88% of the funds raised by the two candidates and he won — wait for it — 54% of the two-party vote.

So there’s your money effect, folks. Go from a 2:1 money advantage to a 7:1 money advantage, and it could increase your vote share by a full percentage point! Woo hoo!

Poll driven v principled politics

A competent opposition here would make the point that National has no principles, and is driven by polls. This is a simple message and a standard play and it appears that no one in the left has worked it out because it is hard to see any ideological underpinning to this National government.

Why doesn’t National have any clear principles that the voters can immediately see? Or does National have principles but not have a media team that can actually sell the principles to the public?

In the U.S. we have just seen a principled political, Scott Walker, win a recall by standing up for what he believes in. Rand Paul, the Junior Senator for Tennessee, makes some telling points about how voters like politicians with principles.

The unions and the Democrats in the legislature were so desperate to cling to old ways of doing things that when their intimidation tactics were failing, they simply left. Wisconsin Democratic legislators hid in roadside motels in other states, attempting to run out the clock on the legislative session. But Scott Walker stood his ground. That is the biggest lesson for reform politicians who find themselves opposite a well-funded special interest lobby. Stand your ground.

Voters from my state tell me just what Wisconsin’s said — stand for something. My fellow Kentuckians knew I believed in reforming Social Security  and balancing the budget in a short period — because I told them. I respected the voters and they respect being treated like adults.

Just for good measure he throws in this great quote from Reagan.

Ronald Reagan once advised conservatives to raise “a banner of bold colors, no pale pastels, a banner instantly recognizable as standing for certain values which will not be compromised.”

Maybe National could take note and demonstrate it has some principles. Or start explaining to New Zealand what its hidden principles are and tell us all what they stand for.

Democracy Dead?

ᔥ Andrew Sullivan

Only the left wing, that caused a recall election, that then lost the recall election can wail that democracy is dead when they lose a vote. There is nothing better than seeing the bitter, bitter tears of defeat on a socialist’s face:

Busting the Myth of Unions Representing Workers

ᔥ Forbes.com

Remove pay cheque deductions and force unions to ask members to renew their membership every year. Then they have to prove they are providing members value for money. Or the members walk, as they have in Wisconsin.

Best of all, the myth that union bosses represent their members’ interests has been exposed as a lie. Now that union dues are voluntary, tens of thousands of union members have stopped paying them.  Membership in the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) has dropped by half. Membership in the state’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is down by over a third. Given unions’ influential role in most elections, the national implications of this trend are staggering.

Public Sector Unions take it hard in the chook

ᔥ Forbes.com

Bill Frezza says that unions have reached their high water mark. After Wisconsin perhaps Jonathan Coleman could have a crack at the PSA here. They are National’s enemy and need a good going over. The pity is that Coleman is one of National’s wets, and had to almost hand in his man card after going squirrelly on the Crafar farm deal and so it is unlikely he would man-up to take on the PSA. I wonder of John Key might like to ask Tony Ryall to take on this special project?

Public sector unions have reached their high water mark. Let the cleanup begin as the red ink recedes.

Despite a last-minute smear campaign accusing Scott Walker of fathering an illegitimate love child, the governor’s recall election victory sends a clear message that should resonate around the nation: The fiscal cancer devouring state budgets has a cure, and he has found it. The costly defeat for the entrenched union interests that tried to oust Walker in retribution for challenging their power was marked by President Obama’s refusal to lend his weight to the campaign for fear of being stained by defeat. We’ll see how well this strategy of opportunistic detachment serves in the fall as Obama reaches out to unions for support.

Scott Walker wins in Wisconsin

ᔥ Real Clear Politics

Scott Walker has seen off the union organised challenge to his Governorship and won the recall election in Wisconsin:

Sixty million dollars in campaign spending and 15 months of protests later, Wisconsin voters decided Tuesday that Republican Gov. Scott Walker should keep his job after all.

Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a tight and heated recall election that began in the corridors of the state capitol and then transformed into a national test of the conservative grassroots and the power of organized labor. Walker’s win deals a blow to the latter and energizes the former.

A clear mandate to continue his programme of removing power from the state sector unions.

A lesson for National in Wisconsin

ᔥ Salon Magazine

If there is a lesson for Labour in Wisconsin there is also one for National:

While liberals often cite the importance of public sector unions as a counterweight to corporations in election spending, too little gets said about their role in advocating for quality public services and ensuring decent and stable jobs. But as private sector unionization falls, benefits that even non-union companies felt pressure to provide become benefits that even unionized companies seek to shirk. And right-wing criticism of public sector benefits – or of public sector bargaining itself – gains traction.

With the teacher unions getting stroppy the government can easily make the case that these state sector unionised employees in particular need to be sorted out. They oppose everything put before them, and refuse to entertain differing policy initiatives despite elections being won on those policies. With extended holidays, parental leave and other entitlements not enjoyed in the commercial sector it really is beyond the pale that they won’t accept performance pay, especially since the people who pay the taxes that allow them their cushy state funded jobs are themselves subject to performance pay.