Commentary: Leaders Don’t Need To Alert National Guard

By Bill Wineke Special To Channel 3000

Is this a joke or what?

Gov. Scott Walker has seemingly declared outright war on state and local government employees and is threatening to call out the National Guard to back him up.

Introducing his “budget repair” program Friday, the governor asked the legislature to end the right of state and local workers to bargain for benefits and other non-salary compensation, require any unions which manage to survive his onslaught to be re certified each year and to allow ?any state employee? to opt out of paying union dues.

He went on to demand that state employees pay 12.6 percent of their health insurance premiums, doubling the contribution they now make, and pay 5.8 percent of their salaries toward retirement.

While he was at it, he suggested the Department of Administration consider changing the Wisconsin Retirement System ? one of the best-run retirement systems in the United States.

Since state employees ? and unions in general ? are often unpopular among those who are neither state employees nor union members, it’s worth while stopping here to raise a question.

Is it so unreasonable to ask government employees to contribute more to pension or retirement programs?

Of course not.

The problem is that Walker is not “asking” government employees to do anything. He’s imposing these cuts by fiat and demanding the employees be prohibited from ever having a voice in future employment terms. He’s also asking for the right to fire any employee who doesn’t show up for work for three days or who participates “in an organized action to stop or slow work.”

It absolutely boggles the mind.

Oh, yes, one other thing: the governor says he has asked the Wisconsin National Guard to be ready to respond to any situations that might result from these actions like, for example, staffing the prisons.

Now, all this leads to a question: Is there anything at all in Governor Walker’s past that would lead us to have confidence in his ability to be dictator of Wisconsin?

Well, here’s a hint: Before Walker was elected governor, he served eight years as the Milwaukee County Executive. By the time he left office, that county was in such bad financial shape that the Greater Milwaukee Committee recommended eliminating the county executive position.

The chairman of the committee that made that recommendation, Michael Grebe, was also Walker’s gubernatorial campaign chairman.

Walker says the reason Milwaukee County went down the tubes under his leadership is that the county board wouldn’t do what he asked it to do.

Well, guess what? Other leaders have had hostile legislative bodies. Tommy Thompson, who may be the best governor Wisconsin ever had (my politician brothers don’t always agree with me on this), faced Democratic legislatures. He managed to get his programs enacted.

The mark of leadership is that you have to convince those you lead to follow you.

Real leaders do not have to alert the National Guard to back them up.