Ted Bobrow

More Work To Do

By - Mar 18th, 2009 10:38 am
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Barack Obama won by applying solid community organizing fundamentals to a national campaign. He built an extremely loyal and disciplined network of staff and volunteers, developed an extraordinarily smart strategy and rode the combination all the way to the White House.

Wisely, he is now applying those principles to help ensure that his national agenda gets the grassroots support it needs to succeed.

Mobilizing the Obama nation in support of his budget and his agenda is a no-brainer. Developing grassroots organizations to advance real change locally is equally important and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Energy? Education? Health care? Jobs?

What happens locally matters! It really, really matters!

Governor Doyle, very much like President Obama, has seized on the challenging economic environment to include ambitious yet responsible, forward-looking yet, dare I say, necessary reforms in his proposed state budget.

And critics, just like the ones opposed to the President’s budget, are complaining that the budget process isn’t the right way to advance a policy agenda. Well, it seems to me that such an argument is the last refuge of a minority party.

Disagree with a particular proposal? State your case and make your argument.

But the budget process is exactly the right time to ensure government is doing the things it should be doing. We certainly know that obstructionists have used the budget process to block things they oppose.

So let the debate begin and let it be public and lively. The state legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance will be in town to hear what you have to say next Wednesday.

Is there something in the proposed budget that you love or hate? Here’s an opportunity to be heard.

My personal favorite is the proposed ban on smoking in workplaces. It’s about time Wisconsin workers didn’t have to risk their health by showing up on the job. And there’s no doubt that reducing tobacco’s impact will result in real savings in health care costs so don’t tell me this doesn’t belong in the budget.

And here in Milwaukee my attention is riveted by the proposed MORE jobs ordinance. This common sense proposal would extend hiring standards to include developers who receive more than $1 million in financial support from the city.

In other words, if developers are going to accept handouts from city taxpayers they damn well better be willing to hire a certain percentage of qualified city workers and pay them the prevailing wage appropriate to that job category.

The opponents apparently believe in corporate welfare without any strings attached. I like what the New York Post had to say about the AIG mess; “Not So Fast, You Greedy Bastards!”

Interestingly, the Common Council is expected to take up the MORE proposal on the same day as the local Joint Finance hearing. So I’ll be rushing to State Fair Park after raising the flag at City Hall.

So that’s my two cents for today. By all means, let’s support the President’s national agenda but let’s also show that we care about what happens in our own states and communities just as passionately.

After all, if you want to be a couch potato and watch March Madness, that’s fine, but democracy ain’t a spectator sport.

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