Callen Harty: Walker recall is not a referendum on collective bargaining

Callen Harty posted the following open letter, A Reply to Scott Walker, in response to a letter he received in the mail from the Walker campaign, asking "for a donation to help him defend himself against attacks from the left and the unions." Callen writes: "This is the letter I am sending out to him tomorrow (and he gets to pay the postage)."

This letter sums up so much about what is wrong with the way Walker has deceived us to the very end, and I'm honored to share it here with Callen's permission.   This is his second guestpost on MoD. The first, an open letter to Scott Fitzgerald, is worth reviewing as Fitz faces his own recall on June 5th. Please be sure to check out the original post on his wonderful blog, A Single Bluebird.

And with just 2 short weeks to go before the recall election, I encourage all of you to share your thoughts with your local papers, or send to me and I will post on the blog. Take the MoD Open Letter Challenge and speak up now against Walker's unjust, unfair and unethical governance or forever wish you had. 

May 16, 2012

Dear Governor Walker,

Thank you for your personal letter to me asking me to donate money toward your goal of $400,000.00 to help defeat Tom Barrett in the upcoming recall election.  I will tell you first of all that I am an independent voter and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past, among others.  I must also tell you that I’m afraid I’m not rich enough to be one of your donors, and neither are most of the Wisconsinites I know, many of whom are suffering under the policies you have pushed through in the last year.  But even if I could afford it I would more likely donate it to a candidate who shows a little more fiscal responsibility than what your campaign has shown.

You say in your letter that the opposition is raising money in breathtaking amounts.  Yet all of the news media, liberal and conservative, has repeatedly reported that you are raising far more money than Tom Barrett and the Democrats.  You have raised more than $25 million dollars already, two-thirds of it from out-of-state donors, and I’m guessing they might be expecting something in return.  Most of that money was raised in the last half-year and most of it came from a handful of very wealthy benefactors.  Have you spent all that money already?  Are they okay with that?  How could you possibly need almost half a million dollars more?  Clearly, if you are running the state of Wisconsin the way you are running this campaign I can see why we are in so much economic trouble here.

Let me be clear about this:  I am not a huge fan of either the Republicans or Democrats, but I do not believe you when you say that the “Liberal Democrats” bent to the will of big labor leaders in Chicago and Washington.  I believe that the Democratic Party tends to be the party of the working class more than the Republican Party does, so yes, they may have supported legislation that labor may have liked.  But labor is not about union bosses—it is about the common man or woman working the assembly line or teaching or laying bricks for a living.  If the Democrats pass laws that support working class people, then I am for them.  My grandfather was a miner, my father a painter.  I come from working class people and although I have never belonged to a union I believe in the dignity of our working class and poverty-stricken citizens.  Nobody deserves to be disregarded or discarded.

In your letter you say that with “clenched fists, obscene signs, screaming chants and un-Wisconsin-like tactics, I’m being attacked with a ferocity that Wisconsinites have never seen before.”  I have been at the Capitol during the peaceful protests this past year.  I have seen thousands of people behaving well and letting their feelings be heard.  I have also seen people yelling “Shame” and other things at you and some of your legislative allies.  It is because the people of this state feel that you have attacked them with a ferocity that is un-Wisconsin-like.  Never before have we seen so much disregard for openness, so much bullying in the Capitol chambers, such rude dismissal of the other side of the aisle as we have seen under your leadership and that of the Fitzgerald brothers.  You “dropped the bomb”, you tried to “divide and conquer”, but what you did was awaken a sleeping giant.  You have united people in a way that the Democrats have never been able to do.  Yes, the people are angry at you.  They have every right to be.

The “Madison Liberals” and “Union Bosses” you speak of may be trying to make an example of you as you assert.  It is their right politically.  But for regular Wisconsinites like me this election isn’t about the unions.  Yes, I am incredibly unhappy with what you did to collective bargaining, but even moreso at the way you did it.  I am also unhappy to see my niece and her family taken off of BadgerCare because of your cuts.  I am unhappy to see what used to be the finest educational system in the country gutted because of your priorities.  When corporations are owners of our school systems and making profits off of it instead of cities and towns having local control the people of Wisconsin will see what they have given up.  I am unhappy about your horrible record on environmental issues, the incredible loss of jobs we have seen, your attacks on Planned Parenthood, your positions on LGBT issues, and more.  This election is not a referendum on collective bargaining.  It is a referendum on the totality of your short tenure.

Earlier today you released a revised set of job numbers.  You say that Wisconsin is heading in the right direction.  If backwards and downwards are the right direction then I guess we are doing fine.  Every state in the union—including Wisconsin until the numbers showed us losing more jobs than any other state in the country—has used the same set of Department of Labor statistics to show job growth or loss.  But today you released numbers showing we’ve gained 23,000 jobs (which, even if it were true, is not even 10% of what you promised us).  It is not only disingenuous, it is a lie.  The people of the state are losing jobs and suffering under your budget cuts.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs and no other state lost more than 3,500 between March of 2011 and March of 2012.  45 of the states gained jobs or stayed even in that same span.  Is the federal government in collusion with “Liberal Democrats” and “Big Union Bosses”?  How else could they come up with such numbers when you can come up with just the opposite?  Simply put, Wisconsin is not open for business.  It is open for businesses, for corporate benefactors who stand to gain from your giveaways to them and takeaways from the people who live here.

I will not be sending you a donation and I will not be voting for you.  I am confident that you will not see this letter, because you have yet to listen to regular Wisconsinites the way you listen to out-of-state millionaires and billionaires.  I wish you well in whatever you pursue after the governorship, but I hope with everything that is within me that your new career path will start in the next few weeks.


  1. This letter should be in every local paper in this state, she has hit the nail on the head of what this recall is about, I hope she publishes it in the State Journal and the Milwaukee papers too. This might wake up other people who don't have computers and facebook and the social networks. Thank you, it is everything I have been thinking, but you put it so nicely.

  2. WTG Callen!!!! My hope is that Walker's new job will be making license plates and his new work uniform will be an orange one piece jumpsuit!

  3. Awesome! Please submit this to as many newspaper opinion sections as you can. Very well written

  4. Fiscal responsibility??? Look at the mess Scott Walker inherited. Oh yea, not paying Minnesota the money we owed them is fiscally responsible? Being slapped down by the Supreme Court because you illegally raided funds is that fiscal responsibility? It is sad you know more people "suffering" than you do that saved money due to his limit on tax increases.

    I seem to recall the fleabag 14 getting their marching orders from Big Labor and Obama. Big Labor is all about their management -look at GM -do you think the way their deal was structured was to do anything but prop up the union -just ask the union members who made it a point to remind Obama where his money comes from. Just ask anyone following WEAC if they think the union cares one iota about education -they won't until kids start paying union dues.

    As to your comments on the tactics used in Madison -what happens if Scott Walker wins his recall fight? What happens if he wins by a larger majority than he did the first time around: you could make the case that he has gained more support than before -pursuing an agenda that an increasing number of people support? Segway boy, the guy who looks like Rachel Maddow, etc... spend their days harassing Scott Walker and his supporters. I was in Madison, too. If I had a dollar for every Scott Walker is Hitler type sign I saw I could afford to pay for your education in statistics (see below).

    When has Scott Walker gone after LGBT issues? Seriously, enough with the talking points.

    Why are you so against Wisconsin demonstrating success? It sounds like you are rooting for Wisconsin to fail -if more people are employed than before, why is that such a bad thing?

    As to understanding where the unemployment numbers originate and how they are calculated, you cannot possibly hold Scott Walker accountable for your ignorance. Anyone familiar with statistics understands the inherent error with a small sample size (versus a large sample size). I am not certain if you have had anything beyond a 9th grade algebra class; however, I suggest you read up on how these numbers are determined -there are plenty of liberal economists writing critiques of the numbers for you to hopefully understand.

    As to education, didn't Jim Doyle end up making huge cuts to education, too? I remember every year hearing about how many teachers would get laid off, how many schools would close, and how many teachers would get shuffled around -maybe you haven't lived in Wisconsin too long or you simply forgot??? Just ask WEAC about their data, that they recently scrubbed, that shows the positions lost versus the schools that took advantage of Act to. Why is WEAC trying to hide successes of Act 10? While you are looking into WEAC, look into WEATrust and look into how many schools saved millions of dollars by going with a different carrier -yea, the union is all about the kids!

    As to creating 250,000 jobs -it was an aggressive target and one that has not been helped by the recall movement. Imagine you have a business and you are thinking about expanding -the 2 leading Democrat candidates for Gov. are running promising to raise taxes (look at their records to know that they aren't bluffing). Tom Barrett was not only raising taxes but he was raising fees, too. Who do you think those fees hurt the most? Would you plan on expanding your business when you do not know how much your taxes will be only a few weeks away if Scott Walker loses? You many not understand how the private sector works; however, allow me to enlighten you: when a company is deciding to hire another worker (or expand) they look at the cost of the worker and compare it to the benefit they will get from that worker. If they do not know what the costs will be it makes that decision to hire/expand significantly more challenging. Wisconsin cannot be open for business if people do not have some confidence that their costs will not skyrocket in a few months.

    1. Steve:

      Callen is just preaching to the choir and rehashing old and sorry arguments. The voices get more shrill as defeat at the polls comes closer. I'm sure you'll hear a lot of stuff about how voters are stupid on sites like these and perhaps that the Gov should be selected by the legislature....

      As a formerly union teacher, I would like to thank Scott Walker for freeing me from the dungeon of WEA and its satalite prisons. I can assure you that WEAC was never an organization with anything but a miopic view. I imagine their membership will collapse over the summer. This whole thing is about the mandatory withholding of dues.