There’s one aspect of the 21st District Senate recall that may have escaped notice of some residents, especially my fellow neighbors in the City of Racine — probably because it was supposed to.
Whether or not he’s recalled this year (and I certainly believe he will be), state Sen. Van Wanggaard doesn’t intend to represent your interests anymore anyway, as if he ever did.
Maybe that’s why he stuck Racine, in particular, with the very short end of a state budget that’s long on improbable promises but very bad for you and your city.
Just to recap what’s already well known, Sen. Wanggaard voted to disable public-employee collective bargaining rights, even though he used those same bargaining rights to ensure his own public pension from the City of Racine. In his former role as a police union rep, Wanggaard negotiated the contracts with the City of Racine that awarded him those personal benefits he now enjoys, in addition to his double-dip salary as a state senator and his future enhanced pension benefits from the state of Wisconsin.
Once elected, with votes from the City of Racine, Sen. Wanggaard also voted for a state budget that stripped Racine of upwards of $2 million in state revenue, to be made up largely through your local tax dollars or cuts in local services. Moreover, he supported cutting nearly $17 million in state aid to education to Racine schools.
Why would an elected representative act so contrary to the interests of his constituents in Racine?
That’s easy. Because state Sen. Van Wanggaard never planned on representing you, the citizens of the Racine, for very long in the first place.
No, because in addition to his support for crippling collective bargaining, and stripping Racine of some of its state aid, he was given an escape clause by Gov. Walker and the Republican majority in the state Legislature.
Sen. Wanggaard was guaranteed that he would never again have to face the wrath of angry voters of Racine once they discovered what he was really up to.
Under a gerrymandered redistricting plan approved by the Republicans and scheduled to go into effect with the November elections, Sen. Wanggaard was to be rewarded with a nice, safe, new Republican-dominated district that’s designed to excise the City of Racine from its new boundaries.
With this plan, your supposed state senator, Van Wanggaard, won’t represent you at all anymore. He’ll exchange the Racine voters he’s failed to support in favor of a whole bunch of new voters in western Kenosha County instead.
Basically, he’ll desert us, the citizens of Racine, leaving us to suffer for his poor decisions.
Don’t stand by and watch him be rewarded for this faithlessness to his Racine constituents, the Racine voters who helped elect him in the first place.
Stop him before he skips town, across that new, safe border he voted to establish for himself, just as he once negotiated the union contract that now pays his Racine city pension. Stop him, before he gets away, reneging on his civic debt to you, for you to pay yourself.
Recall Sen. Wanggaard while you still can, before he gets away with it, before he walks away, laughing at you — the citizens of Racine — well knowing he’s left you holding the bag, for his city pension, for his budget cuts, and for his hypocrisy.
Randolph D. Brandt is a former editor of The Journal Times and treasurer of the Committee to Recall Wanggaard.
Editor’s note: Racine Unified’s $19 million reductions in state aid to education were offset almost dollar for dollar by a negotiated teacher contract that closely mirrored Act 10’s required contributions to health care premiums and pensions for teachers (and other public employees). The City of Racine agreed to last-minute contracts before Act 10 took effect, and the city did not gain the full amount of employee contributions that would have been imposed by Gov. Walker’s budget repair bill.