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Feb 13, 201411:06 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Are government-mandated living wages coming to an end?

(page 1 of 2)

The Wisconsin Legislature is about to pre-empt all municipal “living wage” ordinances (currently requiring a minimum wage of $11.33/hour in Dane and Milwaukee counties) wherever state or federal money is used. Given that most social services are financed by federal and state governments as pass-through spending, that is significant. Turns out Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is a prime backer of Sub 1 to Assembly Bill 750, having just been slammed by a living wage ordinance enacted Feb. 6 by a veto-proof vote of his county board.

Abele, btw, is a Democrat, but apparently he’s also part of ALEC’s vast right-wing conspiracy. The bill is supported by the National Federation of Independent Business and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

Wisconsin Jobs Now! Executive Director Jennifer Epps-Addison calls it an “underhanded attack the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Act 10.” (Wednesday, Feb. 12, was the third anniversary of the unions’ failed intifada against the repeal of public sector collective bargaining privileges. How time flies when you’re …!) (Jobs Now!’s graphic detailing the “unholy alliance” between Glenn Grothman and Chris Abele can be found here.)

Abele contends that Milwaukee County’s living wage ordinance could bankrupt its Family Care program and cost taxpayers an additional $8.8 million five years from now. Those figures were cited for a once-proposed $12.45/hour living wage, not the $11.33 ultimately adopted. Social service jobs providing personal care to the disabled and elderly now pay $9 an hour in Milwaukee.

Let us quote former Madison alder Brenda Konkel, director of the taxpayer-subsidized Tenant Resource Center and a prime player in the continuing Occupy Madison drama. The white lab coats here at the Policy Research Werkes, who have been paid an almost-living wage since the Nixon regime, have playfully inserted their commentary, in italics. Madame Brenda, you have the floor: 

Honestly, as executive director of a non-profit required to pay living wages, it’s sometimes maddening. The living wage has gone up about $3/hr since passed (city, county and UW all have different living wages, also confusing), but I’ve never been compensated by the funding sources that require it for that increased cost. [Welcome to the private sector.] … I support the law 100% despite my major issue with the funders — it’s a problem with the funders not the law. [Live by the government, die by the government.]

Additionally, I’m sick and tired of the state government telling the local government what they can and can’t do. [But you’re not tired of the city telling the private sector what they can and cannot do.]

Blaska’s Bottom Line Nothing prevents any municipal contractor from paying good wages. The plethora of social service agencies contracted by Dane County — there are 152 (!) — is a jobs bill for well-paid, pencil-pushing executive directors and a ceiling on employee wages. As Ms. Konkel implies, if you want contractors to pay their workers more, increase the funding.

Fiscal restraint … in blue-state California?

A Republican was elected mayor of San Diego, the nation’s eighth-largest city, on Tuesday. The National Review reports that unions poured in $4.2 million to promote the Democrat, compared to only $1.7 million from business interests backing the winner. Despite being outspent by $1 million from all sources, Kevin Faulconer “defeated fellow City Council member David Alvarez by nine points in a city that Barack Obama carried by 63% to 37% only 15 months ago,” the magazine noted.


Old to new | New to old
Feb 13, 2014 01:24 pm
 Posted by  Leo

In the sweep of history, Ronald Reagan was a far more consequential person than Chavez.

If we're gonna set aside a day to honor someone, it should be the man who brought down the Soviet Union without firing a shot, freed eastern Europe from tyranny and who lit the fire for the American economic boom that ruled the last two decades of the 20th century.

While Chavez is worthy of admiration, it's something of a bad joke to think he was more historically significant than Ronald Reagan.

A day for Reagan first and then see how history regards Chavez down the road. Yes, I understand that a major new Hollywood movie on Chavez is coming soon, but let's not be stampeded into doing something short sighted and stupid just because someone is getting the glossy, fawning Hollywood treatment.

Feb 14, 2014 07:50 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Blaska, see you don't understand just because someone says they are one political party over another doesn't mean people are going to run and vote for them. What is the history of the two who were running in California? Who were the financial backers, what kind of media did they run, etc. Some people actually look at the people, their stands, their history. It will be interesting in areas like Tim Cullen, Dale Schulz and Bob Jausch are, will there be people who are moderates stand up and run or will it be more extremes?

Feb 15, 2014 08:18 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I support a holiday to celebrate the birth of Joseph McCarthy. He had the vision to see what we now have - a communist in charge of destroying this country.

By the way, did anyone hear if John Nichols exploded after the VW employees denied the UAW the right to come in and destroy that company?

Feb 17, 2014 09:13 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

Comrade John drove his Love Bug onto thin ice and will wait for the spring thaw.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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