That image is of a full-page newspaper ad taken out in the Janesville Gazette, the local newspaper in Paul Ryan's district. What it is, is thuggery in typeset letters. The names you can't read in the image are the names of teachers in Janesville who signed the petition to recall Scott Walker. Next to their names, is their salary. At the bottom of the ad, there is a space to sign to "opt-out" of any teacher's classroom who signed the petition.
This is part of the strategy the Heartland Institute laid out for breaking the teachers' union and holding onto the their water boy, Scott Walker. According to Blogging Blue, this is part of an intimidation strategy to suppress enthusiasm, free speech, and the right to have a voice in one's government. Cognitive Dissidence outlines the strategy as outlined in Heartland's 2012 Funding Plan, released in January:
The recall elections of 2012 amount to a referenda on collective bargaining reform at the state level, making them of national interest. Successful recalls would be a major setback to the national effort to rein in public sector compensation and union power. Heartland is the largest and most influential national free-market think tank in the Midwest, so we are in the right place and with the right resources to help defend and secure Wisconsin’s recent gains.
We are contemplating five projects:
1. Recruit and promote superintendents who support Act 10
2. Explain the benefits of Act 10
3. Document the shortcomings of public schools in Wisconsin
4. Expose teacher pay in key districts
5. Create blogs that shadow small town newspaper coverage of the controversy
We anticipate that this project will cost about $612,000. Maureen Martin, Heartland’s legal counsel, with be the chief researcher and writer for this project. The anonymous donor has pledged $100,000 toward this project. We are circulating a proposal to other potential funders.
These cowards hide behind taxpayer-subsidized nonprofits to intimidate public servants who are under attack at every turn. Between the stealth privatization movement in the form of charter schools, the ridiculous, nonsensical high-stakes testing, and the public humiliation of great teachers, there is almost no incentive beyond some heightened sense of altruism to even bother to enter the teaching profession.
Now add to that this public attack on their right to sign petitions in the state of Wisconsin and it's clear that the goal in Wisconsin is to turn it into a totalitarian state with Governor Scott Walker as the puppet leader. I'm sure they're laughing all the way to the
counting-house bank as they rub their slimy paws together and plan the next way they can publicly shame and humiliate public servants.
In two weeks, my time as a parent of public school K-12 students will come to an end after twenty-five years in the system. In that time, I have known and interfaced with many public school teachers. Even when I disagreed with them, I never saw one that didn't work far more hours than they were paid for. I never saw one who didn't care about their students. I never saw one who was "in it for the money." Not one teacher. Not one.
I have never seen any teacher who deserved the treatment they are receiving, and I've never seen any reason to tell any teacher they don't have the right to participate in our political system and still teach school. What outrages me most about this evil, cynical, ugly, thuggish act on the part of rich old men and women in Wisconsin and their precious John Birch principles is their utter lack of humanity. They are monsters, these people. They have no compunction about publicly intimidating honest, hard-working people in order to rob those same honest, hard-working people of their jobs and their livelihood.
I'm so angry it's hard to even write how angry I am over this. I'm going to stop ranting and go give Rob Zerban some money. And Tom Barrett. And then I'm going to try and figure out how to get the IRS to pay attention to these evil fascists who cower behind their piles of money and their nonprofits long enough to fix this problem.
You should too.
[h/t Cognitive Dissidence]
Update: It turns out that the Janesville Gazette did not publish this. The people responsible for this actually printed it and added it to the "tube", a container where papers are put for subscribers to retrieve. The Janesville Gazette is unhappy about this, to say the least.
The flier was distributed in Gazette home-delivery tubes.
Gazette representatives said the newspaper did not authorize the use of its tubes, and the flier is not connected to the newspaper.
Gazette Circulation Manager Lon Haenel said Gazette tubes are for newspaper use only. The paper asks unauthorized people or groups to stop using The Gazette's tubes, Haenel said, and will contact the police if they do not.
The Gazette also names the group, Citizens for Responsible Government, as the group responsible for the compilation of the names and salary information. That group has quite a reputation in Wisconsin, which is probably deserving of a separate post.