February 22, 2011
Dispatches (IV): Wisconsin National Guard Makes Routine Visits to Correctional Institutions
Madison -- As large labor protests continue at the Capitol, the Wisconsin National Guard has toured more than one prison in the state, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The Journal Sentinel reported Monday that National Guard members last week had toured Redgranite Correctional Institution with its security director. On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie, spokeswoman for the National Guard, confirmed that other prisons had been visited as well.
"I can confirm that members of the Wisconsin National Guard have visited some of our state's correctional facilities but I stress these visits are part of our routine contingency planning," Guthrie said. "There have been no orders to provide essential services at Wisconsin’s correctional facilities -- the governor has not declared a state of emergency."
Longtime members of state unions stressed that they are not planning prison strikes but also said they have not seen such visits by National Guard members in the past.
Guthrie had initially said Monday that Guard members had not visited Redgranite before issuing the statement Tuesday. She said that she could not say the last time such a routine visit had been made to a prison.
... [Lenny] Wright, [president of the union that represents the prison's correctional officers] said he had worked as an officer at Redgranite for 10 years -- almost the entire time the prison had been open -- and had never heard of such a visit by the National Guard. Bob McLinn, president of AFSCME Council 24, said that in 27 years as a correctional officer he had also never heard of such a prison visit.
Update, 4:16pm, 2/22
In other news, new poll results out, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Madison -- The polls are coming fast and furious as the public weighs in on the budget battle in Wisconsin.
According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll released Tuesday, 61% of those polled would oppose a law in their state that would "take away some collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the state teacher's union."
Of those polled, 33% would back such a measure.
The survey of 1,000 adults was taken Monday night.
Link to USA Today article.
Update, 7:25AM Pacific, 2/23
From Capital Times:
The bill allows the Walker administration, without approval of the Public Service Commission and without a competitive bidding process, to sell off or lease the state's several dozen energy plants to private companies.
The state can sell the energy plants "with or without the solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state," according to the rather circular wording of this clause, which then concludes that "any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest."
Two of Walker's biggest backers are the secretive conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries, the largest privately owned company in the U.S. with 70,000 employees and annual sales of $100 billion in the fiscal year 2008. Among their holdings in Wisconsin are significant lumber and coal interests, a network of gasoline supply terminals, and a toilet paper factory.
The Koch brothers' political action committee gave Walker $43,000, his campaign's second highest donation, and helped to fund a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent, according to pieces in Mother Jones and other publications. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett lost by five points.
And then this bill comes out and opens the door to the privatization of the state's power plants.
Adding to this interesting political snarl is the fact that the guy Walker put in charge of the office that will oversee these potential power plant sales -- though some people worry they will be more of giveaways than sales -- is Jeff Plale. Remember him? He is one of the two Democratic senators who at the very last minute defected from the Democratic ranks to vote against state employee contracts last fall.
Around a month later, Walker handed the former South Milwaukee Democratic legislator the $90,000 post as the administrator of the Department of Administration's Division of Facilities. And now he is busy defending the administration's move to sell off the state's power plants as no big deal.
Here is more from Forbes.
Posted by Menzie Chinn at February 22, 2011 03:37 PMdigg this | reddit
How is this relevant to "Analysis of current economic conditions and policy"? How is this analysis of any sort?
Posted by: Nick Curtin at February 22, 2011 03:53 PM
This is why Franklin Roosevelt was against unions for public employees. Striking public employees present a threat to public safety.
Posted by: tj at February 22, 2011 04:05 PM
Obviously, anytime you phrase a poll as "taking away someone's rights," you're going to get the answer you want.
How about asking instead, "Do you support a right to work law?"
Or "Do you support forcing employees to contribute to unions against their will?"
Posted by: W.C. Varones at February 22, 2011 04:27 PM
Polls of adults tend to be ignored - what do the likely voters think? Also, it seems this is a state-level issue, so a national sample isn't very instructive.
Posted by: Gimlet at February 22, 2011 04:33 PM
As you can see from the timeline, my 3:53pm comment addressed the main item only. The update is clearly relevant, and should help the unions' cause. However, do you know whether Gallup defined what "collective bargaining rights" mean? Walker contends that the public confuses collective bargaining rights with civil service protections, and that the latter are adequate to protect public workers from governmental arbitrariness.
Posted by: Nick Curtin at February 22, 2011 04:46 PM
How's that injecting himself into union politics working out for Obama's polls?
Posted by: W.C. Varones at February 22, 2011 06:31 PM
The most instructive poll is an election. Gov. Walker did not beat around the bush when he was running for office. The voters knew what they were voting for. He actually detailed out what he intended with his "Hope and Change."
Posted by: Ricardo at February 23, 2011 06:00 AM
Nick Curtin: I've added yet more economic (fiscal) content, i.e., proposals to sell off WI power plants in no-bid contracts.
Posted by: Menzie Chinn at February 23, 2011 07:45 AM
Nate Silver has a good post on the WI polls here:
Posted by: Gimlet at February 23, 2011 10:55 AM
I'm in perfect agreement with your criticisms of government no-bid contracts--no such thing should be an option for any publicly conducted business.
On the issue though regarding public workers, though, I have rarely seen anybody take an objective stance on this issue. Take for instance, your presentation of the poll, now should I take this over what the voters of Wis. voted for? Gov. Walker was clear what he was going to do, if so many voters supposedly disagreed they sure didn't show it at the polls. However, that being said, I think the implied threats Gov. Walker is giving with the NAtiona Gaurd should not be condoned; and I only glanced at a story of a DA (I believe) who said the protesters should be shot--this type of talk from authorative powers needs to be squashed. On the other hand, there have been threats issued to Gov. Walker and his supporters and these are just as inexcusable--and I might add that public workers that used a sick-day to protest should be terminated, that's fraud; as well as for the doctors who "signed" for them. One has every right to peacefully assemble, and if Gov. Walker prevents that, he should be recalled, however, one is not entitled to use a sick day for it.
Personally, I support some of the steps Gov, Walker is taking in addressing over spending, however, I find it disappointing that there's no talk of bond holders taking a hair cut, or cutting out many of the Wall Street middle men in state finances and pensions--as much as I am in agreement that many of the public employee benefits, pay, and pensions are unrealistic, that doesn't in turn mean they should get nothing; however, the union leaders are forcing the situation to be all or nothing.
Posted by: Brian at February 23, 2011 04:57 PM
"as much as I am in agreement that many of the public employee benefits, pay, and pensions are unrealistic"
Could you list some examples that you - personally - are aware of? I ask becasue I think there is almost NO correct information in circulation about the actual wages and benefits of WI public employees.
Posted by: wally at February 25, 2011 06:55 AM