• Birthday Cake - Wisconsin Civil Sercice


(A Closer Look at Wisconsin Civil Service)

By William Franks, Jr. AFT-W Local 4848 Retiree, Emeritus Chief Steward and former Equal Opportunity Specialist of Senior Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

Senator Fred Risser’s (The Dean of Wisconsin Legislators) grandfather, Ernie Warner, introduced the legislation in 1905 responsible for creating what we now refer to as the Wisconsin Civil Service System. Warner was a Republican Lafollette Progressive. As I listened to Senator Risser’s interview on Wisconsin Public Radio, he reminded us of the reasons the Progressives, the Liberals of their day, determined such a system was necessary. The central idea was to insulate the public, and those workers who provide services and administer benefits to that public, from political influences.

In other words, the Reformers of 110 years ago believed the public is entitled to services and benefits without regard to their political status. In light of the dismantling of the public sector that we’ve seen over the past several years, one is left to wonderDemocracy, what will it take for Wisconsin to recover its squeaky clean reputation?

Let me offer some suggestions that may help us find our way back. The first suggestion is that we provide an alternative vision of what a clean public sector looks like. We need to eliminate the influence of big money over our political institutions. Even those whom we trust, because they haven’t yet been corrupted, must be held to a high standard.

We need to support and mentor our young people who are leading us back to the path of accountability and democracy. In the Civil Rights Movements we are accustomed to having our young people take the lead. During my lifetime I have seen the USA go from De Jure and De Facto Segregation to a more inclusive society. The fight continues.

It will take all of the People Power we can muster to overthrow what former US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton claimed was a Right Wing Conspiracy. It turns out the prospective Presidential candidate wasn’t too far off the mark. Until re re-establish the rights of the average person to have a government accountable to “We the People,” we will continue to be disappointed in our current political leaders.

To get on the right track, the current political leadership in Wisconsin needs to be replaced. The most recent attack on the Civil Service system is an attack on the people. Only when We the People insist that the puppets of the Reactionary Right return to private life and pursue their greedy goals will we be headed to the path of public service.

Only when we shake off the false narrative of “let’s make the public sector more like the private sector,” will it be clear that we are on our way back. I look forward to living long enough to see a return to a less politicized public sector.

We owe it to ourselves to eliminate our current set of state level functionaries and replace them with people of integrity. We owe it to ourselves, to return to our proud tradition of Open and Honest Government. All real power resides in the people.