Gentle readers may recall during the last legislative session when Democratic lawmakers hid in Chicago to avoid voting on a measure that tied public employees’ pay raises to the rate of inflation and mandated they pay for part of their health care costs.
So the governor dispatched the Highway Patrol to search the honky-tonks and bars of Lakeside Drive, wrangling a quorum to finish his legislative agenda.
No, silly, it wasn’t Brian Schweitzer (D). It was Republican Scott Walker, the newly elected governor of Wisconsin. We had to settle for our governor wielding small, medium and large branding irons to veto Republican bills he labeled “bat crap crazy” as Republican leadership whined in the shadows claiming Schweitzer was not playing nice and people were getting tired of his shenanigans.
Wisconsin unions went to court claiming they had a right to negotiate through collective bargaining with the state’s chief executive and the outcome was binding on the Legislature. They lost. This was not change they could believe in, so they generated hope by gathering 900,000 signatures to force a recall election on June 5.
Before registering his brands, Schweitzer put a modest 1 percent in 2012 and 3 percent in 2013 in pay raises in the budget for state employees. He said it was a hardnosed negotiation, but the bat bit pointed out he was negotiating with his political donors and supporters, behind closed doors, so how hard could it have been? Several well rehearsed quips later, Republicans killed the pay raise.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 23:01
By BOB BROWN
In the sweltering heat of August in San Diego a stocky and brawny Senator Richard Lugar barreled past me, sweat glistening on his brow, and soaking his T-shirt. He was jogging with several young staffers during a break at the 1996 Republican National Convention. Lugar was 64 then, but his boyish face and muscular conditioning made him appear younger. In fact, he was the embodiment of vitality and energy.
Now Lugar is 80. On television he appears aging and stooped. His fellow Indiana Republicans recently trounced the old gentleman in their primary election. They didn’t toss him out because he was too old, however. They tossed him because he was too old-fashioned.
By his record Lugar was a conservative, but he followed the old Senate custom of sometimes reaching across the center aisle to work with members of the opposition party. In the past, notably in the era of Senate Democratic leader Mike Mansfield and Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen, that is how things in Congress got done. As now, nearly 36 years ago when Lugar entered the Senate, there were sharp philosophical differences between the two political parties. But then, the two sides had mastered the difficult art of reaching out for allies without sacrificing their principles. Today that is a lost art.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 May 2012 13:46
Eons ago I wrote a column based on a conversation with pontificating pig farmer, Marty Mohr of Park City, Mont. Marty allowed that Brian Schweitzer might beat Roy Brown in the governor’s race, so perhaps I should be his lieutenant governor to pull him to the right occasionally. Because Marty holds his Levis up with baling twine, the character Kalvin Twine became the spokesperson for fashionable bipartisan filing.
When the column appeared in print, Schweitzer called me three times to discuss the legality of bipartisan teams and the political wisdom of same. He still asks about the welfare of Kalvin Twine, and we share a laugh.
Since then Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger has been on TV ads, during campaign season, espousing his political differences with Gov. Schweitzer. During the Great In-between, Bohlinger has been reported walking the governor’s dog with plastic glove in hand, greeting returning troops at the airport, and giving commencement speeches for small-town eighth-grade students.
Bohlinger has never attended a Republican caucus during a legislative session. Lt. Gov. Bohlinger is rarely seen in an official capacity but then getting between Schweitzer and a camera could lead to a work comp claim, so perhaps it is just pragmatic self preservation.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 10:47
Last Updated on Sunday, 11 March 2012 16:54
Last Updated on Sunday, 11 March 2012 16:48