The final election of 2013 was Tuesday. Not one week passed before news of the last election of 2014 revealed itself. So ...
Election past: During The Platteville Journal’s pre-election interview with Platteville Common Council President Mike Dalecki, he said, “We have more money going to capital [improvements], we’ve cut costs, we haven’t raised your taxes. We’ve created places for people to live in town. If this isn’t a good set of policies, then what do people want?”
The answer is somewhere between a rejection of Dalecki’s assertions and a rejection of the perceived style of Dalecki and at-large Ald. Steve Becker. One person’s blunt truth-telling is another person’s rudeness and arrogance. And you can’t always tell if the person you’re talking to believes you’re listening. (As we know, perception is increasingly important in politics.)
If Dalecki and Becker don’t know this already, they can take this from someone who once ran for office and lost, and was fine with it: Losing an election isn’t anywhere close to the worst thing that can happen to you in life. Sometimes elections are like nuclear winter, when the living (the winners) will envy the dead (the losers).
One thing that will be interesting to see is how much new Alds. Mike Denn and Barb Stockhausen push restoring city hourly employees’ three hours per week that were reduced in 2012. That vote in late 2011, by the way, was a 6–1 vote (the No vote was from former Ald. John Miller, and at-large Ald. Dick Bonin wasn't on the council yet), which means that four of the five aldermen serving their current terms voted for it too.
It’s easier to make such a change in the next budget instead of in the middle of a budget. Whenever it happens, the bigger challenge will be how to pay for it. (And paying for it will cost more now because of the pay increase the council passed as part of the city’s 2013 budget.) Stockhausen asserted that there were areas to reduce spending and still restore the 40-hour work week. Stockhausen’s new constituents, as well as Denn’s, will be very interested to see where those areas are.
One wonders if the council will have an appreciably different relationship with UW–Platteville, given that Denn has said some rather negative things about Platteville’s largest employer during his campaign. Stockhausen, on the other hand, seems to believe the city–university relationship wasn’t the greatest and needs to be improved.
Denn and Stockhausen represent two of seven votes on the Common Council. Will two heavily influence five? Tune in starting later this month.
Politics present: The previous SWNews4u.com poll asked whether Platteville should enact a public intoxication ordinance. “Yes” won, 27–23. There’s a subject for the next council to address — the six to 17 proposals the Common Council appears to favor to deal with Second Street issues. (The current poll, meanwhile, asks the Brewers’ 2013 record. So far, “finish below .500” is the runaway winner.)
Election future: The first shot of the 2014 election season was fired last weekend when Rep. Howard Marklein (R–Spring Green) announced he was running for the 17th Senate District seat held since 1991 by Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center).
The 17th District hasn’t been represented by a Democrat since Richard Kreul made UW–Platteville Prof. Kathryn Morrison, the first woman elected to the state Senate, a one-term senator in 1978. However, the 17th District is probably less Republican than it once was because, thanks to shifting Wisconsin population, the district has grown toward Madison and thus become more Democratic, including Iowa County.
Schultz hasn’t announced his 2014 plans. You’d have to guess from reading the VoteDaleSchultz blog that Schultz plans on running given that Schultz reminded readers of his 98.7-percent Republican voting record.
Republicans outside this area have been angry with Schultz for two votes — his vote against the 2011 public employee collective bargaining reforms (which nonetheless passed), and his vote against the Assembly version of the 2012 iron mining bill (which failed, but passed this year). Schultz also has indicated he’s less than enamored with education funding in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2013–15 state budget, along with two other Republican state senators, Luther Olsen (R–Ripon) and Mike Ellis (R–Neenah).
The more important question is what 17th Senate District voters think of Schultz. Schultz has never won with less than 57 percent of the vote in a general election since he was first elected to the Senate in 1991, in good Republican years (1994 and 2010) and bad (2006). The 17th Senate District has been represented by exactly one Democrat, Morrison, since 1854. (The 1974 election was a bad one for Republicans near and far due to that third-rate burglary called Watergate.)
Politics present and far future: By accident, I found a commentary from David Brinkley on a 1990 edition of ABC-TV’s “This Week with David Brinkley.” Brinkley, one of the great TV news wits of all time, closed the Earth Day show with a report from England about a dispute between a village and its county council over the 300-year-old-oak-tree-lined road going into the village. As you can guess, the county wanted the trees taken out to widen the road; the village disagreed. The compromise, Brinkley reported, was that the county could plant two new rows of trees 30 feet farther apart than the existing trees, and when the new trees reached the same height as the old oaks, the old trees could be cut and the road widened. To quote Marshal Sam McCloud (who was on Brinkley’s former network, NBC), there you go.