Friday, July 27, 2012

Tea Party Heroes

I've written a few times about the illegal furlough days that Scott Walker foisted upon Milwaukee County employees during his last years as county executive.

In a nutshell, Walker put a $20 million hole in the middle of his budgets, and would claim that he would have it covered by concessions by the unions, even though he refused to sit down at the negotiations table to even ask for said concessions, much less get them. In order to maintain the guise that he had crafted a balanced budget, Walker decided to impose furlough days on the workers, even though he knew that was in violation of an arbitration ruling. Some workers, such as yours truly, had to take a full 26 furlough days in 2010. That's one every two weeks.

The unions, of course, filed a complaint about the illegal furlough days, and prevailed. And the unions prevailed at every occasion and at every level the county tried to fight it.

After long last, the county recognized that they were going to have to take their lumps and pay the workers for the money that was illegally taken from them.

On Thursday, the County Board voted, for the second time, to pay back the workers for the number of hours they were illegally docked in 2010. On top of the back pay, the county also has to pay a 12% interest, compounded daily. They had approved the payment in June, but thanks to some poison pill language inserted by Supervisor Pat Jursik, they had to redo it in July.

Technically speaking, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did report on the vote on Thursday.  However, as one who is paying attention might expect, they buried the story at the bottom of a column that was focused on another issue. And as the gentle reader might also expect, they were inaccurate in their reporting.

Here is what they wrote:
On other matters Thursday, the board:

Authorized payment of $4.1 million to reimburse 1,800 county employees for unpaid furlough days in 2010 found illegal by an arbitrator, a decision upheld in court. The figure includes $3.5 million in lost wages, plus $620,000 in interest costs. The furloughs were ordered by then-County Executive Scott Walker as an emergency budget measure. The workers, members of District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, also are claiming about $1 million for 2011 furlough days, but county lawyers are reviewing the issue to determine whether the court ruling applies.
Now, the $4.1 million might be a smidgen below the actual cost. The county provided the breakdown of the payment to the unions, and there's already been a number of calculations that have been found to be faulty, mostly due to using inaccurate wage amounts. But for the sake of discussion, we will o with these numbers.

The bulk of the money, the $3.5 million is the responsibility of Scott Walker. What the paper doesn't tell its readers is that there was no fiscal emergency, as that that the county had a surplus that year, meaning that they could have foregone the furloughs and still came out ahead. And many workers, again, such as myself, were able to dodge the financial bite of the furloughs by getting overtime to make up on the work lost because of the furloughs.

Now thanks to Scott Walker, Milwaukee County employees will be getting paid the equivalent of four weeks of pay, even though they didn't have to put in the time. It's like getting four weeks of vacation pay, but with the pay deferred for a couple of years, and gaining interest much higher than offered by any bank.

That's a mighty costly way of saving taxpayers money, isn't it?

But lets not forget the more than $600,000 in interest that was added to the county's tab.

The blame for that extra payout charged to the Milwaukee County taxpayers falls on Supervisors Pat Jursik and Joe Sanfelippo.

Jursik can be credited for wasting $35,000, the amount of interest accrued each and every month the county did not pay its debt, because of her poison pill language she had inserted the first time the county tried to pay the workers. The Board had to wait another month to correct her attempt to sabotage the payment.

The rest of the interest accrued, nearly half a million dollars worth, can be directly attributed to Sanfelippo, a teahadist who thinks he should be sent to Madison this fall.

Ironically, one of the reasons Sanfelippo thinks he should be a state assemblyman is this:
Streamline governments at all levels and increase accountability to taxpayers by making sure programs and services are achieving good results not just good intentions.
What an interesting point for Sanfelippo to make.

Being the good teahadist that he is, he wants to save money for the taxpayers by not avoiding doing anything which might be construed as being good for the workers.

Joe Sanfelippo
But when Sanfelippo, who was Chairman of the Personnel Committee at the time, refused to accept repeated contract offers from the unions, each time claiming the union's concessions was enough. Keep in mind that the union's last ditch effort to reach a contract last year included all of the contributions towards health care and pension costs that the county was seeking. It also included giving up half of the furlough money, and taking part of what the payback in the form of vacation time spread out.

Sanfelippo refused to even look at the union's offer and dismissed it out of hand. By doing so, he set the county on a course in which it accrued more than a half a million dollars in interest, gave up more than $2 million in concessions on furloughs and gave up even more millions of dollars in lost savings.

In other words, as egregious as Walker's wasting taxpayer money, for no other reason than to gain a political talking point, was, Sanfelippo was able to single handedly squander three to four times as much taxpayer money for no other reason that a teahadist's "good intentions."

Sanfelippo then went to the press and cried that the county didn't have the money to pay the bill he racked up. This was just another hypocritical stunt by Sanfelippo. Even when it was shown that the county had more than enough cash, he still voted against paying their debt off and would rather accrue more cost for the taxpayers.

But then again, we already know that Sanfelippo has no qualms of sticking it to the taxpayers, despite his teahadists chanting:
In the most recent issue of Milwaukee Magazine, there is an investigative report by Marie Rohde that shows that Sanfelippo’s taxi cab company, along with all sorts of unethical treatment of his drivers, made $1.2 million from a contract with the county. It should be noted that it was only in the 2012 budget adoption hearing that Sanfelippo abstained from voting on these contracts, and for a while was even the chair of the committee that made these policy decisions.
Sanfelippo's disregard for the working class in favor of the 1% is well documented.

The sad part is that the people that attend tea parties, listens to squawk radio or relies on Faux News for their information are so deluded that they think that people like Walker, Jursik and Sanfelippo are looking out for them. In reality, these teahadists are only looking for the next way to exploit them.


  1. You can't make your goal to write a serious piece, then pepper it with the word "teahadist". This is kind of a waste of some (otherwise) very good writing.

  2. Yeah. Teahadist is a silly word. They prefer "teabagger". Or nitwit.

    1. >>They prefer "teabagger"<<

      Not after they googled it!

    2. I am not sure they googled it, I think it took them a while to figure out why everyone was laughing at them.

  3. I like the term teahadist. It's fitting.

    1. Teahadist is fitting.

      They should be fighting their own inner personal battles, instead of taking it out on society in the guise of a conservative majority.

  4. Cui bono when bozos ruleJuly 27, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    Urinal Sentinel wins big with Scott "John Doe " Walker. Keeps winning big with teahadist radio.

    Recall election ads boost Journal Communications

    "The massive spending on political ads for the recall campaign helped Journal Communications boost its second quarter profit by 24 percent, compared to the second quarter of 2011, to net earnings of $7.61 million, the company reported today. "

  5. So when do the affected workers actually receive the back pay??? ....or is it going to take many more months of 35,000 interest?