Monday, March 12, 2012

Breaking! Robin Vos Drowns In His Own Smugness

Robin Vos (R-Koch) penned a commentary for the Sunday Journal Times and accidentally slipped and fell into a fetid pool of his own smugness.

Oh! the humanity...with notes.

Bipartisanship cooperation is taking place in Madison
Wisconsin General Assembly

If you want to know the message Vos is trying to sell - it's all in the title: Bipartisanship. Of course the commentary will proceed to rip apart Democrats...but Vos wants you to remember he is so very Bi - but that has always been the rumor hasn't it?

You've probably noticed that most media stories about the state Legislature focus on conflict. The controversial stories capture the headlines. The Siren agrees, 100,000 people banging on the Capitol doors to be heard is fairly controversial. When Vos called recalls a "cancer," saying lifting the federally required cap on Family Care health care program for Wisconsin children was "irresponsible" and called the era of "social justice through government money" to be over...while he voted to give hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy in Wisconsin certainly demonstrates Vos' collaborative nature. Not much attention is given to the collaborative efforts on legislation like education reform or on the hours spent crafting a legislative compromise. The assembly did spend nearly an entire day debating the definition of a bicycle and voted not once to consider a single amendment offered by Democrats on education reform. I would like to enlighten you on what it's been like at the state Capitol this spring. Yes please, Captain Smuggy - enlighten us all.

For the past several weeks, I have been working on a compromise for the mining legislation. Dale Schultz didn't think much of my compromise...and said so. Even though the Assembly passed a very strong environmental plan to differentiate ferrous mining from harsher chemical mining, another proposal was brought to the table. I pulled my pants down and pissed on Jauch's alternate bill right in front of him. Plus, we weren't going to kill the Penoke hills overnight, we were going to make sure it took long enough for me to leave office. In order to find common ground, I spent hours working with mining experts, Um, that would be the mining company. environmental leaders Not returning their calls and emails. and senator Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center. Not that I listened to him, I just sat there and pictured him dead. It made the time go faster. I still believe that the Assembly mining bill was the best proposal. I was the only one. However, I felt that I owed it to the citizens of Wisconsin to find an agreement for the sake of bringing thousands of jobs to our state. Because when this Titanic of a give-away to the mining company fell through, everyone would naturally blame me for screwing the pooch. What's unfortunate is that politics got in the way of jobs. It totally sucks when you can't buy or bully votes isn't it? Sure, some said they were for mining and were willing to negotiate. Yeah, we knew Schultz wasn't going to play ball, but we had Carpenter by the short hairs until the hippies got a hold of him and he pussied out. The final vote in the state Senate revealed their true colors and the mining company is now looking for a new state for its mine and its jobs. Aren't you just feeling the bipartisan love, boys and girls?

With that horrible outcome behind us, I have to point out that this session actually has been extremely bipartisan. Okay, that sentence is fucking classic. Horrible outcome? I guess for him and the mining company.  More than 96 percent of the roll call votes in the Assembly have included a Democratic or Independent vote. One out of 37, impressive. In the Joint Finance Committee, more than half of the votes on legislation since October were unanimous. Vos wants you to believe there is not much difference between Republicans and Democrats in the Assembly, don't believe it. This is where Vos counts on the ignorance of the public to follow every bit of legislation voted on in Madison. There are big bills, like the mining bill or Act 10 - the Budget Repair bill and then there dozens of small bills and resolutions that get passed - most of these the public doesn't hear about. For instance, there is AB 56 a bill which relates to proof of ownership at flea-markets - that passed with 82 "yes" votes. Then there are resolutions like proclaiming October as Italian-American Heritage month. Not very controversial, like the following example... For instance, the entire committee recently voted in favor of the renovations at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove. That legislation was recently signed into law. The only thing unusual about this legislation was that you voted for it.

The day to day business of the legislature is fairly routine and mundane, but it is the big bills or policy changing bills Republicans have shoved through: Voter ID, Pay equity, tort reform, collective bargaining and massive school budget cuts that have changed the state in fundamental ways. In those pieces of legislation there is no bipartisan support to be found.

There's a famous quote that says, "laws are like sausages, it's better not to see them being made" (Otto von Bismark). The Siren has involuntarily vomited in her mouth even thinking about Robin Vos and sausages. I would disagree. I think we all should see how our state laws are made. Which of course is why we coerced Republican legislators to sign secret contracts to keep our publicly paid, yet private attorney's redistricting plans a secret from the public. It is why we kept our maps a secret from Democratic leaders but showed it to convicted felon, Scott Jensen and RNC Chair Rince Pubus. If you really want to see how we make our laws, you'll have to go across the street to the offices of Michael Best & Friedrich - hey we even have some our staffers housed in their offices. Take a closer look and you'll be quite happy with the amount of collaboration and compromise this spring. Collaboration with our lawyers and of course from time to time with the Milwaukee DA. A great example would be the education Reform package that's making its way through the state Legislature. He's right, this is a great example.

When Gov. Walker began his term, he created three bipartisan task forces with legislators and education experts. The Read to Lead Task Force, - A largely ceremonial effort to increase training for teachers without actually developing any agreed guidelines or methods to increase reading proficiency. School Accountability Task Force - A proposed school scoring method designed to waiver out of the federal "No Child Left Behind" program. Walker put three Republicans in charge who all voted to strip $800 million out of school budgets in 2011 - causing WEAC to rightly claim a lack of trust and they declined to participate. and Educator Effectiveness Task Force - The most controversial, designed to tie teacher evaluations to student performance, test scores and graduation rates. Teachers asked why anyone would willingly work in low income schools where students performance is lower or with non-traditional students who scores can't be accurately measured by tests? Look for substantial teacher flight to safe, middle-class schools, leaving poor or failing schools to new teachers with no seniority to chose positions. met for months to develop recommendations for new legislative initiatives to improve the quality of education in Wisconsin. When their proposals came out, I reached out to our area superintendents and school board members for their input. Not that I listened to a word they said. Their responses went directly to the education committee chairs and the governor’s office. Their actual response was something Vos has chosen to omit - condemnation - Vos'  favored voucher schools would not be held to the same standards as public schools even though they had been told they would. In fact, while voucher and charter schools would be able to compete for state grants, their students would not be required to take the same standardized tests or held to the same accountability measures as public schools. The legislation has been improved because all parties worked together on a common goal. State School Superintendent, Tony Evers has been highly critical of Walker's efforts once it was revealed that Walker had vacated his promise to make accountability fair and inclusive to all schools who receive state funding. Sucker. 
Added to the Education Reform mix is AB 110, which Vos also omitted from discussion. AB 110 creates a special needs scholarship program for students to transfer up to $13,000 a year to private or charter schools who are not required to perform ANY special needs programming - they don't even have to hire teachers with special needs training or certification. Funds for special needs vouchers come straight out of the budget of the student's former school.

Disability advocates and special needs educators have begged the legislature to add standards to the grant program. As usual, Assembly Republican's think they know better.
This bill is so bad, families who accept the vouchers will be required to sign a waiver to forfiet their rights protected under the Individuals with Educational Disabilities Act. Wonder why he didn't bring that one up?  
So while the news headlines may highlight conflicts, it’s not the entire story in the state Legislature. Only if those secret oaths hold up in court. I think it’s what Democrats and the media want you to believe. See how bipartisan he is? Oftentimes, lawmakers do work together on solutions to make Wisconsin better. Like on the definition of a bicycle.
State Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, is co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee. Full-time Koch addict and ALEC salesman.