The following is an open letter from my good friend and brilliant geographer Sigrid Peterson. Wisconsin needs to retain and encourage genius like hers, because there are plenty of employers in others states who want her. For those who haven’t heard, this is in reference to our governor’s recent announcement that he will call out the national guard if he needs extra enforcement of his plan to bust public sector unions.
Who are you gonna trust, Scott Walker (as shown smarmily above) or...
Dear Neighbor: On the Multiplier Effects of a Public Sector Job
Dear Governor Walker,
I doubt you remember me. In fact, we’ve never formally met, but you and I grew up not half a block away from each other in the small town of Delavan, Wisconsin. You were in my sister Katie’s high school class, though perhaps you didn’t know her then (indeed, she was a brainy punk rocker, while you were a mullet-haired jock). Six years your junior, I have only fuzzy memories of you—of riding my bike around the corner, seeing one of the “older boys” in the neighborhood walk out of his house on West Wisconsin Street, and hearing my sister say, “Hey, there’s Scott Walker.”
...this hardworking woman (Sigrid) helping me pull weeds on a hot summer's day?
Our limited acquaintance notwithstanding, within the past four days I fear I’ve gotten to know you fairly well, or well enough. So perhaps it’s time I introduce myself. My name is Sigrid Peterson. I’m your former neighbor from Delavan, and I’m a public sector worker in Wisconsin.
If it isn’t obvious, I’m writing to ask you, your administration, and your Republican friends in the legislature to put a swift stop to your proposed “Budget Repair” bill, along with its crude and unapologetic assault on fifty years of rights and benefits granted to Wisconsin’s public sector employees. Your measure is nothing short of devastating—stripping most (in some cases, all) of our collective bargaining rights, incapacitating any future resources of our unions, and further straining the livability and reach of our compensation with steep increases in employee contributions to health care and pensions.
And you do this with nothing but unsubstantiated excuses that this is the “only alternative.” And you do this with no effort (none) to meet with workers since you took office. Forgive me, but this makes you no more forthright or articulate than a tongue-tied and cowardly teenager breaking up with his girlfriend/boyfriend via text message. Does this mean you’ll bring back your mullet, too?
If I’m irreverent, Governor Walker, I assure you it’s in service to things greater than concern over my job, alone. I write this out of respect for my late father, too—your old neighbor, a lifelong Wisconsinite, and a public municipal employee. I also write this out of pride in the progressive legacy of my home state, a legacy you and your colleagues delight in dismantling.
My dad, Lyle (raised in Richland Center, WI), was living proof that (more…)