Apparently everyone who didn’t vote for Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker in 2010 (minus the hundreds of thousands of fraudulent signatures, of course) signed a petition to recall Walker.
Then, on Wednesday, Kathleen Falk, former Dane County executive and twice-failed statewide candidate, announced she is running against Walker, assuming the number of fraudulent signatures doesn’t invalidate the recall drive.
As far as I’m concerned, Falk is a perfect candidate. Perfect, that is, to symbolize the stupidity of Recallarama, and to symbolize the theme of Madison vs. the rest of Wisconsin.
Falk — or as exiled Madison conservative blogger David Blaska calls her, The Kathleen — was the Dane County executive for 14 years, after she was the state’s public intervenor, a former state Justice Department position designed as an intentional environnment-motivated bottleneck. (One of Gov. Tommy Thompson’s greatest accomplishments was the elimination of the public intervenor position.)
Falk has one thing in common with another supposed recall candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Both are two-time statewide election losers. Falk and Barrett both lost in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary, then, four years later, after beating Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager in the Democratic primary due to the latter’s drunk driving conviction, in what was a very good year for Democrats, Falk nonetheless lost the general election to then-unknown Republican J.B. Van Hollen.
Falk started her political career as an environmental lawyer. The irony is that Falk undoubtedly will tout her economic development credentials, which in a county that includes state government and the state’s largest university is like opening a faucet and announcing that you’ve discovered water. Moreover, a drive through Dane County (which I do every few months, most recently in December) shows a considerable amount of what the envirofreaks (which Falk used to represent) would call “sprawl.”
You should probably ask current and former Dane County supervisors from districts outside greater Madison what they think of her work. That is important because Wisconsin is still a mostly rural state. One wonders what kind of limits on growth in non-urban areas a Governor Falk would support. Falk supported the $800 million waste of taxpayer money that would have been the Madison-to-Milwaukee not-really-high-speed train, a train most Wisconsinites would not have used but all would have been required to pay for.
In doing research for my most recent anti-Madison blog, I came upon a University of Wisconsin master’s-degree thesis, Growth Machine Theory and Urban Political Decline: A Case Study and Empirical Review: The Madison South Beltline Highway, Madison, Wisconsin. (Only academics and would-be academics write 20-word titles that include two colons, by the way.) The thesis, available online from the UW Memorial Library, shows the opposition of the state Public Intervenor — Falk and her predecessor — on specious grounds that building a new South Beltline south of Monona’s East Broadway could lead to less consumer spending in downtown Madison and Madison population loss. So all the people killed and maimed on car crashes before the new South Beltline opened in 1988, well, ask The Kathleen about them. So should those who were victims of two-lane U.S. 12 between Middleton and Sauk City, whose upgrade Falk opposed.
Whatever hired flack wrote Falk’s Wikipedia page, which was updated Tuesday, notes her “balanced budgets and capped property tax levies,” which only means Falk did what she was required to do under state law. Falk also substantially increased Dane County government spending and employment, which serves as a nice preview for what she would do as governor. Some of that spending included using tax dollars to purchase wetlands to prevent development, including a parcel between Lake Waubesa and Upper Mud Lake that was under water. (Really.)
There’s also the laughable part about Falk’s being a “tough but fair negotiator” with Dane County’s unions. That sentence demonstrates the grotesque faults of government employment in Wisconsin — that (1) public employee unions exist and (2) negotiations take place instead of employees’ being given the choice of taking the offered salaries and benefits, or working elsewhere. The fact that government unions will all endorse Falk also proves that state employee unions will get more than everything they could ever wish for should a majority of Wisconsin voters lose their minds and vote for Falk.
Since the Wisconsin Democratic Party is not being run by adults, as demonstrated every time party chair Mike Tate and mouthpiece Graeme Zielinski open their mouths, it’s probably a waste of my typing to suggest that Wisconsin Democrats need to find candidates for statewide office who do not reflexively support every idiotic idea that comes from Madison or Milwaukee at the expense of the rest of the state. On the other hand, maybe such non-Axis Democrats as Sens. Dave Hansen (D–Green Bay), Robert Jauch (D–Poplar), Jessica King (D–Oshkosh) and Jennifer Shilling (D–La Crosse) and Reps. Penny Bernard Schaber (D–Appleton), Janet Bewley (D–Ashland), Jill Billings (D–La Crosse), Chris Danou (D–Trempealeau), Gordon Hintz (D–Oshkosh), Nick Milroy (D–South Range) and Donna Seibel (D–Wausau) are perfectly happy having their constituents dictated to by the People’s Republic of Madison on such issues as land use, hunting and their Second Amendment rights.
The gubernatorial recall has always been about who is in charge in Wisconsin — government employees or taxpayers. The state should be run for the benefit of the 85 percent of workers who do not work for government whose taxes pay for those who do. Vote for Falk, and the state will once again be run by the public employee unions.