Friday, July 22, 2011



The August 9, 2011 recall election in Senate District 18 is itching closer and closer. The District includes three counties, Dodge, Fond du Lac and Winnebago. The election is between Republican incumbent Randy Hopper and Democratic challenger Jessica King.

There are approximately 13,500 public employees working in Winnebago county. They comprise about 1/8 of the county's entire work force. The Walker budget repair bill which became law was fully endorsed by Senator Hopper. The law will steal or strip $27 million in take home pay per year from the pockets of public employees of Winnebago County. That's $27 million not $27 thousand. You don't have to be an economist to understand that the lack of this spending power will first affect the workers and their families, and then all the small business that these Winnebago County workers shop at, eat at and drink at.

How come the Oshkosh business community stayed silence on this economic damage? Where was the voice of newly-elected mayor Burk Tower? Above all where was the pen of John Casper, the president and CEO of the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce? He is the Allen Greenspan of Oshkosh who regularly opines in the Sunday Oshkosh Northwestern about economic growth.

Why was he silent on the loss of $27 million to the Oshkosh business community. There could be at least two reasons.

First, he does not know. He does not follow public sector employment. He's a private business type of guy. He has little to do with the public sector except when he shows up at the Oshkosh Common Council urging TIF money for Oshkosh Corporation.

There is a second reason and the one that is probably more accurate. He doesn't give a damn! Why? Because Casper wears more than one hat. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. This is the most powerful private enterprise organization in Wisconsin. They bleed Governor Scott Walker's programs and Senator Hopper's full endorsement of all of them. They detest public unions and teachers with a passion. They spent over $1 million to re-elect David Prosser to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The economic pain of this attack on public employees will be felt more in the months and years ahead. For many, the loss of take home pay has not been felt as of yet. But it will be.

The political payback can start on August 9, however, by electing Jessica King to replace Senator Randy Hopper.  

It also can be made by urging John Casper to resign from the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and pay attention to the plight of public employees in Oshkosh and Winnebago County.

Dan Rylance
For Eye on Oshkosh


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