Wineke: The obliteration of the Wisconsin Idea continues


From time to time, we stop to add up the various insults to good government our state Legislature has committed since its last assault on the state’s legacy.

Where to begin?

Well, Gov. Scott Walker dropped out of the presidential campaign, came home and almost immediately signed on to legislative proposals to abolish the state’s civil service system, a system which has provided a national model of clean government for more than a century.

Rather than having job applicants go through the process of exams and interviews, once this is law, they will submit resumes to the state Department of Administration. Those state employees who already have jobs will no longer be able to bump less-tenured employees should their positions be eliminated, and state employees accused of certain specified wrongdoings could be terminated on the spot.

It will make government more efficient, the plan’s backers promise.

Now remember, this is an administration that dinked a student whom Walker had nominated for a position on the Board of Regents, because that student signed a recall petition against the governor.

That’s right. These people keep an enemy’s list, and now they are going to have hiring and firing authority for 33,000 state workers. What could possibly go wrong?

One reason for changing civil service, the proponents say, is that the state will soon face a lot of retirements, and it must be easier to hire new employees.

One might think that taking away employees’ rights to bargain, cutting their take-home pay and removing much of their job security might be counterproductive if you’re trying to lure bright young workers, but apparently, that’s not the case.

Then, there’s the Government Accountability Board, a nonpartisan agency that oversees election ethics in the state. It’s another national model, and it is doomed.

Walker and the Legislature are angry, because state investigators kept looking into the governor’s campaigns and finding people who broke the law. And at least until the state Supreme Court ruled that what was once clearly illegal is now legal, the John Doe investigation kept turning up all sorts of weird things — like having a mining company put up hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions while helping to write the mining laws.

We won’t see any of that happening anymore. There will be no corruption in Wisconsin because we will make corruption legal.

And so it goes. Welcome to Wisconsin. We were once a model state.