Dear Scott Walker,
Even on the most beautiful day of the year (my daughter played beach outside - eating ice cream in her shorts and t-shirt), you have managed to remind me, yet again, that there is no low so low you won't go there.
I learned a few new things about you today. I learned that you, in the delusion of all delusions, actually really do believe that you are some kind of businessgod. I mean, we all know that you are famous for your "CEO of Wisconsin" posturing, and your claims to having run this state as if it were your own company. But we also all know that you have never actually worked in the private sector, and have zero actual experience running anything other than a campaign. For someone who hates government, you sure can't get enough of it.
That's why it was so absurd when I heard this clip from a radio interview:
Really? Charlie Sykes makes the alpha male in you come out so strong that you lie about what your wife would like and make a bogus claim about "going back" to something you never had? You are just too much.
But as if that delusion isn't bad enough, what really bugs me here is that you don't think the $144,423 we pay you each year is "real money." And that you freely admit that "this job" is not "that important" to you because it's not making you quite as rich as you (and, allegedly, your wife) would like to be.
How far out of touch with reality can you get? Do you have any idea how many employed, responsible, hard-working people in Wisconsin would be thrilled to make half of your salary? Do you have any idea how painful it is for us to hear you disrespect your own office by implying it's just a stepping-stone on your corporate career path?
Maybe you think that if you keep selling yourself as Mr. Business Guv your big-money sponsors will be on-hand when you leave office to offer you some cushy job. And maybe they will (assuming you leave because you got voted out, instead of Blagojevitched out to the private sector that is our privatized prison system). But I have news for you: in the real business world, you don't get to spend your time jetting around not working and still collect your salary. You don't get to avoid your bosses and your underlings both and still get credit for their work. You don't get to pretend that you're saving the company money when everyone can see you're pulling it into a black hole of debt and dishonor.
Because this wasn't the only thing I learned about you today. I also learned something I've been dying to learn all year: what you've really been up to. Because even for someone who follows your goings on very closely, this is almost impossible to find out. Even though your deputy communication director just responded to it by publishing the most audacious piece of propaganda ever to come our of your office ("Walker administration committed to openness"), yesterday the Wisconsin Legislature was "awarded" the biggest possible badge of shame for lack of transparency in government: the Black Hole Award for withholding information from the public, appropriately granted during "Sunshine Week." Your entire administration has been shrouded in secrecy, half-truths and outright lies. And unlike most public officials, you guard your public schedule like the crown jewels; no one ever really knows where you're going to be or where you might have just been. We just know you're mainly out of state fundraising from Thursday to Monday. But Tuesdays and Wednesdays might find you in Wisconsin. Just depends. Turns out the only way to get your office to reveal your whereabouts is to file an Open Records request for that public information, and One Wisconsin Now did just that. The results are staggering, even to someone like me who knew you're hardly ever "working" like we pay you $144,423 a year to do. Here's what they found:
This hits home in a painful way for a few reasons:
First, because as a taxpayer it makes me absolutely furious that we are paying you so handsomely to both not do your job AND to joke about how paltry you find the pay.
Second, because your abuse of power is an insult to everyone everywhere making an honest living, but most explicitly to your fellow state workers, for whom, in the wake of losing their right to negotiate their own working conditions, this is just a stab in an open wound. I'm thinking of a wonderful teacher at my son's school whose infant son was born prematurely, but had to come back to work while he was still in the hospital so that she could save her maternity leave for when the baby comes home. I'm thinking of a friend of a friend who works at a university and has insurance, but was so worried she couldn't afford her deductible or additional costs that she refused medical treatment after getting into an accident that totaled her car. I'm thinking of the semester I was working three different state jobs - none of which offered insurance we could afford - and my family still qualified for BadgerCare. None of us could opt out of our work. None of us could afford to live the way you do. Even when I was on BadgerCare, I was not getting a "handout" the way you are. I was making much-needed and life-saving use of a program I myself was actively paying into (a system, by the way, that finally received the worst of your decimating blows just today). But none of us would ever dream or dare of exploiting the system the way you do, filling your pockets with our money but in exchange for little to no work. How dare you ask state workers to give up their "cushy benefits" and take cuts to their pay while you can't even be bothered to come to work. What a sick double standard. What a message you are sending the the workers of this state whom you ask to make "shared sacrifices" at every turn. What have you given up, Governor Walker, besides your dignity?
Finally, though, this news has just left me reeling, because I read it only hours after receiving an email from your office informing me that because of your "rather hectic schedule" you regretfully cannot accept the invitation our grassroots group sent you to meet with local constituents. We had invited you, as we are inviting all the other potential candidates, to speak to our group of concerned citizens and other members of our community in an open forum, and we thought this invitation would provide a rare chance for actual dialogue and conversation with your constituents. Unfortunately, however, you don't have time for dialogue with your constituents, because your "hectic schedule" apparently demands you leave the state at every opportunity to take advantage of fundraising opportunities, spending nearly every moment we are paying you to work to work on raising money.
You cannot find one hour to meet with your constituents. Your scheduler offered very polite and "sincere regrets." But you don't have an hour to spare. In the entire span of your term, I cannot remember one time when you met with the people in an arena that was not completely staged, scripted, or purely intended to raise funds. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that you could not spare even one hour for us to answer a few questions about the decisions you've made since you were elected and the way you've governed this state.
According to the public records obtained by One Wisconsin Now, you spent one hour working for us in January. One hour. At a salary of $144,423, that means we payed you $12,035.25 for one hour of work. If that's not "real money," I don't know what is. Maybe you and your wife want a house bigger than our mansion. Might I suggest you move to one. The sooner the better if you don't mind.
In the meantime, I guess I'll just be thankful that the GAB has finally confirmed my appointment to meet with you. So it looks I'll see you on June 5th, then. At the ballot box, assuming your hectic schedule allows. I'm looking forward to it.
Heather DuBois Bourenane
Taxpayer, parent and citizen standing in outrage over your refused to meet with or otherwise acknowledge your constituents.
UPDATE 3/16/2012. I just learned that while Governor Walker does not have time to meet with the taxpayers of his own state, he found time this week to not only attend a fundraiser at someone's personal residence, but to "drop in" on a town council meeting and actually take the floor to brag about himself and his union-busting "reforms." But not here in Wisconsin. That was in FLORIDA. Maybe if our group raised $200,000, we could meet his apparent engagement fee and have a chance to talk to him, too. Too bad the voice of out-of-state money is much more valuable and persuasive than the voices of Wisconsin taxpayers.