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The Other Half of the Wanggaard Story

Randolph D. Brandt, treasurer for the Committee to Recall Wanggaard, takes a critical view of Sen. Van Wanggaard's record.

Politicians are fond of telling half-truths, but in the “” report by Sen. Wanggaard on his legislative record, he didn’t even succeed at meeting that 50 percent standard. Indeed, Sen. Wanggaard falls well below having any standards at all.

What’s missing from Sen. Wanggaard’s litany is the rest of the truth about his record, the vast majority of it.

Van Wanggaard has consistently voted to reward himself and his friends, particularly his friends who have rewarded him.

That shouldn’t be surprising from a politician who spent decades feathering his own public-employee retirement nest egg by using collective bargaining to gain his own generous public retirement income.

That would have been OK – people often look out for their own interests. But when Wanggaard then turned around to disable the collective bargaining system for other public employees in need of such support, he crossed the line from self-interest to double-dealing.

That’s not surprising either. Let’s look at how Sen. Wanggaard’s dealt from the bottom of the deck all along to make sure he and his new-found friends win, and the rest of us lose:

  • He accepted nearly $15,000 in campaign contributions from the telecommunications industry, their lobbyists and suppliers, then voted to cripple consumer protections previously built into the telecommunications law.
  • He voted for a budget that raised taxes on working families, while giving his new friends in industry hefty tax breaks, including industries that contributed nearly $15,000 to Wanggaard’s campaign.
  • He voted for a budget that cut nearly $2 million from the City of Racine, while many of the people who voted him into office in the first place got stuck with higher local tax bills based on over-inflated property assessments.
  • He voted to cut nearly $17 million from our local public schools, while turning over a good chunk of that money to private and parochial schools.
  • He voted to delay unemployment benefits for the jobless in Racine and elsewhere, hardly the mark of a representative who’s just oh, so concerned for folks who are out of work.
  • He voted to cut millions from long-term care for seniors, then tried to take credit for restoring the money when, in fact, the federal government ordered Wisconsin to do so. In effect, Sen. Wanggaard and Gov. Walker lied and then tried to cover it up when they got caught in their lie.

For all Sen. Wanggaard’s claims to sponsoring and passing jobs bills, the fact remains that Racine still has the highest unemployment rate in the state, and he’s failed to get any of his legislation passed nearly two-thirds of the time.

We need more than a senator who fails well over half the time, then tells half the truth by trying to champion such a poor record as some kind of major success.

We need a real leader in the 21st District, and Van Wanggaard simply doesn’t measure up.

(Randolph D. Brandt is treasurer for the Committee to Recall Wanggaard.)

Terry Van Parys January 07, 2012 at 01:04 PM
For someone claiming half-truths on the part of Van, you should be ashamed of all the lies in this piece. How disgusting!
Brian Dey January 07, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Mr. Brandt- As former head of the Racine Journal Times, and someone who sat on the editorial board, you should know about unbiased reporting. However, in your tenure in that post, you were always to biased and that is why many in the county stopped buying your paper. What you fail to tell in your truly biased version that if it weren't for Van Wanggaard, the collective bargaining would have had deeper cuts. It is his voice that was responsible for saving the grievence procedure, one of the main goals of unions.
Brian Dey January 07, 2012 at 02:40 PM
But in the big picture, you liberals are way out of touch with reality. This is something that had to be done. The work rules, salaries and benefit packages were eating up 80 - 85% of the revenue and accounted for as much in local and school board budgets. You've been around here long enough to know that the union leaderships would not budge on concessions until Act 10 came about. There is no punishment invoved here. There is just a hard dose of reality that the taxpayers of this state can no longer afford 100% healthcare and 100% pension contributions. We no longer can afford unliimited stashing of sick time. The truth of the matter is the union leadership and complacent boards are to blame, not Walker. And maybe you should look in the mirror when you talk about politicians pandering to special interest. Why don't you look at the main contributors to Cory Mason, John Lehman, and anyone that has had a (d) by their name. In this state, WEAC, SEIU, AFL-CIO, and AFSCME have poured millions and millions of dollars in to Democratic candidates, and for that, they were were given paybacks, and Cory Mason is just a prime example of pandering.
Brian Dey January 07, 2012 at 02:40 PM
The whole reason the recalls are going on in the first place is to pander to the unions who are not upset about anything other than forced union dues and recertification. Without those, they would be history and they know it. So please Mr. Brandt, spare us your lectures and recognize that for the first time in a long time, Wisconsin, the municipalities and school boards can do what is needed to be done to make us more fiscally responsible without having their budgets held hostage by union leadership.
Stormy Weather January 07, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Vote Brian Dey - for the RUSD school board!
Brian Dey January 07, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Mr. Brandt, but he gave them the tools to make up for budget cuts. Please tell me, where was he suppose to get the money from to balance the budget. You are a smart guy. 80 -85% of all revenue goes to employee salaries and benefits. So let me get this straight. You would rather pay 100% of the benefits, but cut from the measely 15 - 20% left that is for things like, textbooks, transportation, and the other necessities for our children. If Doyle would have been a true leader, and not pander to the unions, Walker would not have had this mess. Doyle and the Democrats made promises that they couldn't keep, and he knew the jig was up, he bailed. If this school board actually does it's job, we will see more revenue go to our kids, not the adults. And that is why Walker is a hero to education reform in our state. See with guys like Van, it truly is for the children.
Eric January 07, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Brian's got my vote!
Terry Van Parys January 07, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Mine too.
Brian Dey January 07, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Pete- What a poor source. Rootriversiren is a hateful hack that has been discredited numerous times. Not to mention she can't get through a sentence without foul language.
Brian Dey January 07, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Mr. Brandt- The main reasons your taxes went up is because Unified chose to settle a contract to extend collective bargaining. As for professionals retiring, so be it. That just shows me who the REAL professionals are and the one's that were purely in it to bilk the system. And as far as I know Mr. Brandt, living in the neighborhood you do, in the house you live in, not one service in your area was cut. Not one teacher was laid off, not one fireman, not one policeman, not one highway worker. So please explain again how terribly ripped off because of Act 10. You have been drinking too much coffee with a union label. And by the way, when I refer to the unions, I mean the union leaders, especially Pete Knotek of the REA. He would rather see good young teachers laid off, then make any concessions at all. And then he organizes a sick-out to punish the children. In my mind, that is not very professional, and has further damaged any trust in the district.
Brian Dey January 07, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Mr. Brandt- Maybe you should try reading past the headlines. It is Walker that turned them in, and as somebody who worked intimately on Operation Freedom, I'm sure Walker is just as disgusted with them as the rest of us who worked hard to do something nice for our fine men and women in uniform.
Brian Dey January 07, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Yes, Mr. Brandt knows his way to Illinois.
Kringle Guy January 09, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Not only did my property taxes in Mount Pleasant go up, my assessed value went down 20%. Thanks to Wanggaard - and you aren't even my Senator anymore.
mau January 09, 2012 at 11:02 PM
This whole tax issue is smoke and mirrors by both parties. In years where taxes didn't go up considerably we got hit with higher user's fees such as birth/death/marriage certificates going from $7/copy to $20/copy. Driver's license, vehicle license, liquor/cigarette/food taxes go up... You have to look at the big picture of your tax bill and go back a few years and compare year to year. This year, as every year I can remember, the biggest tax increase comes out of RUSD. Our tax bill showed an increase of 7.2% for RUSD and 2.9% for Gateway. County and Village didn't come close and the state went down .1%. Don't know how I'm going to spend those 2 cents :) As far as assessments go, that can swing all over the place. From 2001 to 2002 just the value of our land over doubled, after having been fairly stagnant since 1981. Then in 2006 it almost doubled again. Here's the shocker from 2005 to 2006 the total assessed value of our home and property jumped $66k. In 2008 it jumped another $7k. In 2009 it dropped back to almost the same value as 2006. In 2010 it went up another $3k but in 2011 it dropped $12k again. Thing is, during all those swings, other than 2011, Walker & Wanggaard were not in office. Their being in office had nothing to do with the assessed value of our property and home.
Randolph Brandt January 09, 2012 at 11:44 PM
When Walker and Wanggaard cut state money to cities, like they did with Racine, it's natural for local officials to wish to keep assessments higher because they have to make up those millions somehow. If the assessments are inflated, they can appear to maintain stable local tax rates, even though they're really collecting more money locally to make up for the W+W's cuts.
Brian Dey January 10, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Mr. Brandt- In the village that you live in, Caledonia, the only reason your assessment hasn't gone down is because they only reassess once about every five years. Your assessment is scheduled for next year. Walker of Wanggaard have nothing to do with that. That process has been in place for the 25+ years that I have leved here. The school board, which doesn't have the same levy caps, exceeded it's previous levy by $1 million, which was unjustified and unwarranted. This is after they had a net gain in teachers. It just facsinates me how someone who is suppose to be so smart, can't see through woll being pulled over your eyes by the left. And Mr. Brandt, who is going to run against Walker and Wanggaard? And what platform are they going to run on? And don't say it is to overturn Act 10 because there is not the remotest of chances that will be done. So, are they going to run on raising taxes so that while your neighbors are getting foreclosed on, they can go back to their elite status of benefits paid for by those suffering?
Randolph Brandt January 10, 2012 at 02:15 AM
I live in Racine.
Brian Dey January 10, 2012 at 02:53 AM
My bad. But not far off. No answer to the questions I pose?
Randolph Brandt January 10, 2012 at 03:00 AM
There's no shortage of good candidates. I'd imagine platforms will include some manner of restoring dignity and respect to public employees. You really can't expect a state to operate very well when you continuously denigrate employees as "worthless drones" and worse. How the Republicans think that wins hearts and minds is beyond me.
Denise Lockwood January 10, 2012 at 03:04 AM
I don't know Brian... sometimes, when I see all of this money shuffled around I can't help but think politicians are a little like the boy who murdered his parents and cried to the judge that he was an orphan. The state was somehow allowed to spend 5 percent more, but they levied .1 percent less onto the tax roll... the state reduced their aid payments to the schools and local municipalities. And yet they still had a 5 percent increase in their state budget. How did that happen? Tax shifting.. The reduction in state aids equated to about 9.6 percent of the school district's budget, but yet state laws allowed the school districts to increase their levies. Was that not a tool lawmakers saw that may have been useful? If they really didn't want the school levies to increase, they could have imposed the levy caps on the districts, and it would have been well within their power to do so. But they didn't. The munis had a cap of 0 percent levy increase unless they had growth to justify the increase in their levy. Why wouldn't they expect schools to do the same? It's kind of a head scratcher, isn't it?
Jeff Warg January 10, 2012 at 03:11 AM
The city of Racine's total spending in 2012 increased to $196 million from $193 million in 2011. The mill rate is not stable, it went up 12.9% in the city from $11.46 to $12.94 per $1,000. The city is still overstaffed, Racine still has 55 more full-time positions than Kenosha, which has 20,000 more residents than Racine.
Brian Dey January 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Denise- I'm not sure how long you have lived in this area, but the biggest shift in taxes came in 1997 at least from the school district side of the equation. Prior to 1997, most funding for schools came from the local level, where control was was set by the school boards. The tax shift came in the form of the state's promise to fund 66.6% or two thirds of each district. This included local caps tied to inflation that could only be exceeded by referendum and put into place the QEO which limited salary increases to 3.8% only if an agreement could not be reached. However, in RUSD, the caps were exceeded 7 times by referendum and the QEO was never used, raising our local portion of the revenue well beyond the state's intent of the law. In turn, our state revenue sharing rose and why we saw the RUSD budget rise from roughly $170 million in 1997 to nearly $300 million in 2010. Salaries and benefits in Racine also grew on much the same scale as more revenue became available culminated by salary increases of 4.5% from 2007 thru 2009 with healthcare contributions of around 1% given back. As revenues declined starting in 2008, it was no longer sustainable to continue the two-thirds funding without reducing the local expenditures. During this time frame, we also saw huge increases in healthcare costs and a new federal law requiring guaranteed pension funding. All of those factors came into play and were addressed in Act 10.
Brian Dey January 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM
What was evident from the 1997 funding shift was that salaries and benfefits in 1996 accounted for 60 - 65% of school district budgets, and by 2010, salaries and benefits accounted for 85% of school district budgets. RUSD actually hit that point back in 2004. It makes it very hard to do anything else in the district when you only have 15% to work with. Things like buildings, technology and even textbooks fall by the wayside. Interesting to note thatthe average taxpayer contribution to healthcare and pensions in the U.S. is 80% for public workers, while in Wisconsin, prior to Act 10, our taxpayers contributed 96% on average healthcare and 100% in pensions. Now, after Act 10, the taxpayer funds 82.4% of employee benefits. Unheard of in the public sector and still 2.4% the national average for public sector employees. A good explanation of the 1997 funding can be found at: http://cpre.wceruw.org/finance/sf-equity.pdf There still are caps in place tied to inflation, and I think Act 10 is a lot fairer to school districts than te municipalities for sure. Not sure why it was done that way.
Brian Dey January 10, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Mr. Brandt- Asking for benefit contributions from employees does not denigrate them as "worthless drones." The union leaders and some of it's members actions, like the sick-out in Racine, the countless Hitler accusations of the Governor, the fleeing to IIllinois by the Dem Senators, the marches at the Capital, the using of children in the recall effort and many of the childish behaior has led to a large portion of our society looking unfavorably upon our teachers and those that represent them. I'm sure when you had to cut enefits as the publisher of the JT, or lay off staff, the decision wasn't easy, and I'm positive no one came to you and called you Hitler, or marched on 4th st. or fled to another state. I'm still waiting for a platform. Act 10 can not be overturned by simply recalling the Governor and winning that election, and getting control of the Senate. Raising taxes won't fly either, so this is purely about revenge of the unions for stopping the gravy train, all while they are still receiving some of the best salary and benefit packages in the country. Shame, shame, shame. At least from the school district side, this all about the adults and not about the children.
mau January 10, 2012 at 07:50 PM
There was a cap implemented by Governor Thompson called the QEO (as Brian references). It was removed by Governor Doyle.
Denise Lockwood January 10, 2012 at 08:03 PM
QEO capped salaries and benefit increases, not levies. Levies are what shows up on your tax bill.
Denise Lockwood January 10, 2012 at 08:07 PM
there was somewhat of a cap on levies, but clearly if the school district can raise their levy by 7.2 percent... the state allows them to do so.
Brian Dey January 10, 2012 at 08:43 PM
And Mr. Brandt, Wanggaard was th sole reason that grievances and arbitration was restored, so it is hypocritical of you to state that he abandoned union principles. But see Mr. Brandt, Wanggaard was not elected for the sole purpose of protecting the union gravy train on salaries and benefits. He was elected to represent everyone, not just the chosen few. The best interest in this case was financial stability, which was thrown out the window during his tenure. Wisconsin is now on sound fiscal ground, and the municipalites, counties and school districts now have the ability to also be on sound fiscal ground. That is more important to the majority than funding an antiquated pension system 100% and healthcare for life 100%.
GearHead January 11, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Randy, if you are looking for a way to restore dignity (when was a liberal concerned about that???) you've already found it in Governor Walker. After the previous gov sold out to the tribes, the trial lawyers and above all, the teachers unions - the rest of us wanted to take a shower. Trains from Spain, blowing off local companies, lifetime/forever gambling compacts, looting segregated funds.... Yuck!
Eric January 11, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Denise maybe they expected school boards to control there spending. If they didn't voters could replace school board members with people that would. If communities don't then they pay the property taxes they deserve. Especially after act 10 gave them the tools to reign in spending.

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