Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More great moments in fake outrage from Journal Communications

A couple of classic cases of Journal Communications synergy this weekend. In both cases, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel presented certain stories in a way that were sure to make them topics to be mentioned on Charles Sykes' show, stirring up the 262's fake outrage brigade, and thereby creating a feedback loop of a "big story" when one doesn't really exist.

1. On Sunday, the Journal Sentinel accused WEA Trust of keeping funds from school districts that were expected to receive a break on retiree health care, with a huge headline that made it sounds like WEA was screwing its recipients for having them leave the Trust for a better insurance deal. Sounds awful, right? Except when you actually read the details of the story, you realize WEA is the recipient of a federal grant, and that it then distributes the money to its members. (the emphases are mine)
The federal money, which the nonprofit WEA Trust applied for on behalf of individual school districts, is intended to offset high-cost medical claims for early retirees ages 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. WEA Trust is affiliated with the Wisconsin Education Association Council.

School officials argue that WEA Trust applied for the federal money during the 2010-'11 fiscal year, which ended Thursday, so the money should be credited to the same year. WEA Trust officials contend the money should be carried forward as 2011-'12 insurance premium credits.

So far, there's no definitive answer at the federal level - at least not one they can agree on.

School districts forfeited the money if they switched providers because federal rules dictate it must be disbursed to current plan participants, according to WEA Trust. The forfeited money will be divided among plan participants in school districts that remain with WEA Trust, company officials told the Journal Sentinel.
So when the school districts decide they don't want to be part of WEA Trust (which is cool, if they feel that's better for them), why should they be entitled to a grant that is held by WEA Trust. It sure sounds a lot like Scott Walker claiming he should be able to use high-speed rail funds for highways, doesn't it? Hey, the reason you got this credit was because WEA Trust was given it, so what right do you have to keep the money when you leave WEA Trust? That makes zero sense on its face.

And as Folkbum is wise to point out, "wait, there's even more!"
The federal assistance funds may be used to reduce the share of premiums paid by early retirees, or to reduce deductibles or co-pays. If the plan's total premiums go up year to year, the funds could be used to offset increases. However, the law specifies that the federal payments may not be used by employers as "general revenue."

But God Forbid the facts get lined up about this when you can be inflammatory, and write this story in such a way that it gins up whiners to leave 400+ comments. And what a surprise that the districts doing the most complaining in the article are Hartland and Pewaukee, two of the most baggerrific areas of Walkershaw County. I'm sure they don't have an extra axe to grind, do they?

2. You may have heard about the firefighter who encountered resistance from the Racine Fire Fighters' Union for wanting to put up a float in the city's 4th of July Parade that would serve as a memorial to the fire fighters who lost their lives in 9-11. Dan Bice dutifully allowed the fire fighter to get his story of isolation and persecution in the press, which allowed angry-man radio to go off to the races on how selfish the Racine firefighters union was for not wanting to be associated with this Christian man to showcase his patriotism.

One problem with this apoplexy. Mr. Gorniak chose not to associate with his firefighting brothers and sisters first.
Officials say it is highly unusual for Wisconsin firefighters to ask to go fair share. But Gorniak - who describes himself as a born-again Christian who supports conservative politicians, including Gov. Scott Walker - filed his resignation letter and became a fair-share worker in late March or early April. He said he made the move in response to the protests in Madison over Walker's collective-bargaining plan.

The move is so rare that union officials are still, months later, trying to figure out how much Gorniak should pay to cover negotiating costs. He was the first in his fire department to resign from the union.
Sure sounds a lot like those school district officials whining about not getting a part of the federal grant that was given to WEA Trust, while deciding to no longer be insured by WEA Trust. Birds of a feather, baby.

Typical Republican, the guy wants all the benefits that his union gave him (such as a good wage to support his family, quality equipment and working conditions, and an organization that gives voice to their concerns that they would as disorganized individuals), but doesn't want to be part of the team when it doesn't suit his own needs. He makes a conscious choice not to be part of the local union, and now he comes asking for their support and staffing for his float? REALLY? He should be glad the union head didn't ask him to go fuck himself and tell his non-unionized ass to start his own fire department and see how successful he'd be.

This guy is a self-centered clown, running to the media in an attempt to get his 15 minutes of fame and self-exposure by wrapping himself in the flag and exploiting the tragedy of 9-11 to make his own personal statement. (Amazing how this works with a lot of fundies, being the humble servants of God that they are.) And even if he doesn't realize that himself, the Vicki McKennas and Sykeses and Bellings of the world sure do, and it is disgusting that they use this as an excuse to bash a union of public workers. Especially when every fire fighter that paid the ultimate price on 9-11 was UNION, and was badly mistreated by "America's Mayor", Rudy Giuliani, in ways ranging from negligent communications equipment to lying about exposure to toxins in the clean up and aftermath of that mass murder.

We need to demand balance and honest reporting from the JS, and it is far past time to start putting the hurt on anyone who pays their bills. If Journal Communications is willing to throw the state down the drain in order to make a few extra bucks, they have lost their right to be a respected member of this state's community. Just because the vast majority of ancients who still read the JS fish wrap and listen to 620 AM are pissed-off right-wing shut-ins doesn't mean JRN's outlets should be allowed to lie and deceive people about what is going on in liberally-biased real world.

No comments:

Post a Comment