On Saturday, the West Bend Daily News ran a column by Waring Finke, local liberal agitator, in which he hammered Assemblyman Bob Gannon for being too conservative… or something. Anyway, Gannon responded in the paper today with this.
It does not surprise me that Mr. Waring Fincke, the leftist mouthpiece for the Washington County Democratic Party and an occasional author of hit pieces in this newspaper on anything having to do with conservative political thought, would be offended that I will not accept every ridiculous claim from his entourage as truth.
His “respected local teacher” Tanya Lohr-Kougl, is a past Democrat candidate for the state Senate, who attempted to blow smoke to the audience that evening. She claimed that her family’s income was reduced by $60,000 by Act 10. I called her out as a “liar” as I know that this did not occur. I cannot allow someone in the audience to throw out outrageous comments, without call them on those fabrications.
The next day I called the school superintendent’s office to check on the validity of her statement. The answer from that office, “is to the best of their knowledge, no public school teacher in West Bend had their salary cut by Act 10, and if the claim is that their new contribution levels to their own retirement account and health insurance policy adds up to $60,000, that would be very difficult to believe.”
Additionally, a quick public records search shows that in 2012-13, this teacher and her husband made more than $140,000 for a nine-month teaching contract and received additional benefits in excess of $30,000. I do believe that she is probably paying more for those generous benefits, but $60,000?
So identifying this teacher as a “liar” might have been a bit strong, thus I’ll apologize. In the future I will use terms that are not so definite and will refer to the outlandish claims as dishonest, sneaky, unbelievable, misleading, devious, etc.
Exaggeration was exercised when Fincke claimed that I used “hostile, abrasive and disrespectful comments” toward the Democrats in the room. Maybe a bit over the top when you consider the abuse Republicans were and will be subjected to in Madison regarding right-to-work legislation? It was only recently when the abuse hurled by opposition to Act 10 was much worse than hostile, abrasive and disrespectful; it bordered on criminality. The audience in Richfield, excepting Fincke’s acquaintance, applauded my straightforward answers to the questions on right to work and University of Wisconsin system funding, and at the conclusion of both events I was thanked for standing up for the taxpayers. As a retired attorney, Fincke should be aware that you never ask a question if you may be uncomfortable with the answer.
Fincke also fails to mention that I met with Dean Paul Price and Assistant Campus Dean Dan Anhalt the week prior, and we had a very productive discussion on funding for UW-WC, as well as the UW system. I intend to try and reduce the amount of the funding cut proposed by the governor, and try to push the cuts more onto the UW-Madison campus, where there is clear evidence of financial waste, as well as massive reserve accounts that can be tapped.
The correlation between taxes and spending is taught as early as fifth grade. When a governmental entity increases spending or cancels a spending reduction, the way to make up for this is via a different spending cut, increased borrowing, or an increase in taxes.
I incorrectly assumed that his group understood this, thus I did not teach a remedial social studies lesson that evening.
Surprising that Mr. Fincke finds it hard to believe that I would vociferously disagree to his big government, tax-and-spend answers to all problems. Yes, the state budget is tight this year, and yes, part of that tightness is due to tax cuts given to the hard working taxpayers in Wisconsin. We are better off approaching this from a position of not having enough money, versus being flush, or big spenders like Fincke and friends in Madison would demand that we not challenge all government institutions to work as efficiently as is required by businesses in the private sector.
President Barack Obama infamously stated in 2009 after his first inauguration “that elections have consequences, I won.” This is tacky, though if it was said in a nicer way it would apply to this discussion. My campaign slogan was “Your Conservative Voice,” and I made it clear that I would be beholden to no groups in my mission to shrink government, support right to work, stop prevailing wage, protect the life of the unborn, defend the Second Amendment, as well as other conservative positions and ideals. To claim that I’m not willing to break that promise is a vindication of my character. I meant what I said, I am unabashedly fiscally and socially conservative, and I will not apologize, nor will I be swayed from my heartfelt beliefs.
(Bob Gannon is the 58th Assembly District representative).
Editor’s note: This column is a response to Waring Fincke’s column that ran in Saturday’s paper.