Monday, March 23, 2009

The sound and fury of the Pridemore affair

State Representative Don Pridemore and his staff are in a little hot water because of a press release they issued attacking Tony Evers, candidate for state superintendent of public instruction. The press release was sent out using a state e-mail address and on the state assembly office letterhead, and it listed the representative’s toll-free state office phone number.

The press release read:

Madison- State Representative Don Pridemore(R-Hartford) issued the following statement regarding Tony Evers.

“One thing we can all agree on is that Wisconsin needs to change the way we educate our children. We need to continue programs that are working and re-evaluate or discontinue programs that are not. We need to have fresh ideas and a new outlook on what is important in our state’s educational system. We cannot continue to throw good money after bad and we need to offer more choices to parents and families in this state.

Tony Evers clearly represents four more years of the same failed policies that has our education system in Wisconsin wasting more and more taxpayer dollars, without any significant increase in the results. When former State Representative Sue Jeskewitz called for an audit of the SAGE program, Tony Evers was there to say NO WAY! The SAGE program is costing the taxpayers of Wisconsin just short of 224 million dollars per biennium. Imagine spending that kind of money without knowing where it is going or how effective the program has been in improving the education of our children.

Tony Evers is calling for the repeal of the qualified economic offer QEO that teachers now enjoy. The QEO simply states that if school districts offer less than a 3.8% increase in wages and benefits for teachers, the union can demand arbitration. Tony Evers supports removing the QEO and revenue limits, leaving school boards, taxpayers and teachers to fight over contracts each budget cycle, further alienating teachers from their communities. That is a short sighted approach that caters to the WEAC agenda and shows a lack of leadership and independence.

Furthermore, being in the pocket of WEAC the most powerful lobby group in the state (which by the way uses your tax dollars from teacher salaries to run ads against any candidate they don’t agree with) will assure us that Tony Evers will oppose every idea or program that does not increase WEAC’s monopoly on education. WEAC is a teachers union and that union represents the interests of school teachers and school teachers only. Despite WEAC’s million dollar advertizing blitz trying to claim “every kid deserves a great school”, WEAC has repeatedly rejected any idea that does not maintain their selfish interests.

These issues alone make Tony Evers a bad choice to lead Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction into the future.

Missing from the press release was any expressed advocacy that someone should vote for Evers’ opponent, Rose Fernandez. No mention was made of her at all, and the reader is left to make their own conclusions. While it may not have been the brightest thing in the world to do, I think it would be hard to call this illegal.

After all, if we were to send to little GAB prison every politician who took a pot shot at another politician in a press release, Governor Doyle would have to open the prison doors just so the Senate and the Assembly could have quorums.

There is a certain irony, of course, that draws our attention to the matter. It wasn’t that long ago that Representative Pridemore explored the idea of further tightening the restrictions on free speech in this state by requiring all organizations that engage in issue advocacy to identify their donors. This in turn prompted reaction by Wisconsin Right to Life, followed by the Pridemore paranoia that WRTL was going to recruit the Bucher Boogeyman to run against Pridemore in a primary. Perhaps after examination under the microscope of the GAB, Representative Pridemore will be that much more reluctant to see more state control of free speech in the future. One can only hope.

Interesting, too, who filed the complaint against Pridemore. I have learned it was filed by Democratic Attorney Mike Maistelman, the favorite Democratic go-to for this kind of work. Maistelman confirmed for me that he was hired by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin for this matter, even though it is a non-partisan race.

Well, non-partisan in the sense that the office is non-partisan. And the candidate not involved in this affair, Rose Fernandez, is certainly non-partisan, attracting support from independents, Democrats, Republicans, WEAC union members, and people of every background.

You may remember in the primary the Republican establishment candidate, Van Mobley, was easily trounced despite a large war chest and endorsements by several leading Republicans.

That leaves the Democrats, and if there was any doubt left as to who is beholden to the Democrats and the WEAC leadership, it was erased when the Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed this complaint on behalf of Tony Evers. They are determined to drag this dog of a candidate across the finish line and continue their stranglehold over this government body.

One wonders how this worked. When WEAC decided not to get their hands dirty and told the Democrats, “Jump!” did Alec Loftus even ask, “How high?” Or did the Democrats just scurry over their keyboards and Blackberries to obey? I have this vision of hunch-backed half-witted gophers answering to the beck and call of the WEAC Dr. Frankenstein. “Yes, masters, we hear and obey.”

And putting Loftus out there to be shocked, shocked that politics might be going on in the Capitol Dome is a bit rich, given his father’s confessions in print of activity that would make Chuck Chvala blush.

At least it gives the liberal bloggers a chance to yell, “We found one! We found one!” Good thing the DPW was there to help. If only it were nearly as serious as the case the Democrats, the liberal bloggers and their friends in the media did not want to talk about.

But since my opinion on this matter was so eagerly desired (such enthusiasm from my fans), we're sure liberal bloggers one and all will read my words of wisdom and readily agree that the Democratic complaint really is sound and fury signifying nothing.