The Big Breakup

Is Scott Walker dumping us?

Ever been dumped?

It’s not you, it’s me. I just need to be alone right now. But I think you’re great. I have so much respect for you. And, hey, you’ll be OK. You always land on your feet. See ya.

Of course, I’m paraphrasing from the dating playbook. As it turns out, so was Scott Walker when he delivered the bad news to public employees about their livelihoods and, more poignantly, their rights.

I’ll borrow a few of the guv’s best let-down lines from a recent story in the commie liberal Cap Times: I want to make it abundantly clear … we have good and decent people that work in public government, true professionals. And I have great respect for the men and women who work as public servants. But this is my personal favorite: There will be some that try to blow this into something it’s not. But for us, we continue to respect public sector employees at the state and local levels.

Is it just me, or does it feel like Scott Walker is breaking up with us?

What do we do when our governor doesn’t love us anymore? Hell, I don’t know, but I have a few comeback lines. The governor of this state does not like workers’ rights to organize and because a whole lot of unions do business in Madison—in fact a few of them were born here—he does not particularly care for this city.

He’s also made it abundantly clear that he could take or leave the top-ranked University of Wisconsin–Madison. You know, the one that attracts and retains the best and the brightest from around the state and the world. And thanks to the next biennium budget the guv introduced, Madison College is no longer certain it can educate and train the future workforce (all those jobs the guv himself has promised to create) with the hand it’s been dealt.

And the hardworking, taxpaying residents of this community? Take a quick read through the transcript of the prank call with a big campaign donor named Koch to find his views on you and me.

If the governor is still considering moving his wife and kids to Maple Bluff, he’ll have a tough time at the neighborhood potluck. I hear they’re a very nice family—according to the guv’s Twitter stream they like chili and “American Idol” and get to church a lot—but I wouldn’t blame them for not feeling welcome. A lot of us are pretty ticked right now.

What upsets me about Walker’s actions is not just that he’s taking a far-right political position; it’s that he’s taking a stance against me. And I don’t mean to say that I’m a member of the left. That’s none of your business. I mean to say that I am a Madisonian. Governor Walker is turning his back on Madison with the lame excuse that we cost too much money.

Huh? Madison is one of the largest economic engines in this state, and all of a sudden we’re no longer affordable? Explain that to your fourth grader because I’m having a heck of a time breaking it down for mine. Madison isn’t the cheapest place to live but a good many of us who choose to build careers and raise families here are getting by.

There are plenty of things to improve upon in this city, but a lot of reasons to celebrate and champion: clean lakes, cleaner government, exceptional schools and health care, beautiful parks and bike paths, successful family farms, vibrant arts and a progressive business environment that must be nurtured to carry on the quality of life that brings workers and families here to live, work and play. The way Scott Walker’s behaving, you’d think there’s something wrong with that. You’d also think we don’t pay our fair share of taxes, which I find offensive.

Everybody’s been wondering what Tommy Thompson thinks about this quagmire. (As I write this, he hasn’t made any public statements.) I think Tommy loves the great state of Wisconsin more than a political ideology or a promising career in Washington. He hails from a tiny little place called Elroy, but I know and respect him as a fellow Madisonian and a proud Wisconsinite.

Governor Thompson never would have broken up with us. Maybe we should look to him to help us put the pieces back together.

Brennan Nardi is editor of Madison Magazine. Comments and letters can be sent to 7025 Raymond Rd., Madison, WI 53719, or bnardi@madisonmagazine.com. Letters we publish may be edited for space and clarity.

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