Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Some possible Sullivan irony

State Senator Jim Sullivan was the lone State Senate Democrat to vote against the state budget. The budget passed anyway. If there wasn't already pressure on him because of the recall effort, would he have voted for the budget? And would that have made him easier to defeat next year?

We may never know.

I want to take a moment to respond to Bill Savage's complaints about my blog post and my newspaper column opposing the Sullivan recall.

I have no idea whether Savage “insisted” on getting a rebuttal published in the Waukesha Freeman as he said he would. Usually easier to just ask nicely.

I have since learned from Chris Kliesmet the reason given on the petitions is “Failing to protect Freedom, Liberties and Property Rights”. The phrase surely lacks both any sense of perspective as well as any specificity. I’m sure similar charges were used to send men to the guillotine during The Terror. The next time I’m in Savage’s drinking establishment I shall remember to raise a glass in a toast, “To liberty and totality!”

As I said before, too bad the recall petitioner is not required to state an actual reason for recall. It would be interesting to see with what Savage and CRG come up.

But let’s deal with his other criticisms. Savage says the smoking ban in Wauwatosa does not apply to taverns. The smoking ban does not exclude drinking establishments that earn more than 50% of their income from food purchases. That is why Hector’s, Biggs Roadhouse and Open Hearth had to apply for exemptions from the policy.

That said, was Savage only upset when his ox got gored? Because to most rational observers the difference of above and below the exemption line was hardly a matter of principle. The time for this lesson in freedom was when the aldermen (including Sullivan) passed this law locally if it is meant sincerely.

As for not listening to his constituents, since Sullivan was in favor of the ban as an alderman, and in favor of the ban when he was elected to the state senate, it hardly follows that he was not listening to his constituents since they knowingly voted for him anyway, both in spite of and because of his stand on smoking in public establishments. If Savage has a reasonable complaint it’s with his fellow citizens who elected Sullivan in the first place, not with the elected official that followed through on his stated beliefs.

(Note: Savage can correct me on this point but I do not believe he is actually a resident of the district, which means only that his representation failed to persuade Sullivan. If that is the case, the “failure to defend” would surely mean that representative or state senator’s recall.)

Whether or not so many of his constituents see this as a matter of freedom is debateable, and certainly the electoral evidence so far would convince even “deep thinkers” such as myself otherwise.

I would also doubt that there are truly “thousands” within his district that do not care about Sullivan’s party identification that have an opinion on the recall, either for or against. Savage’s assertion is either disingenuous or delusional.

My suggestion to Savage is to drop the recall. If he insists on going forward, I would suggest he manage his legislative time card well. He might be careful, too, not to issue his rebuttal on the legislative clock. After all, he’s already under one investigation.