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On Gard

by Curt Andersen Friday, Feb. 27, 2004 at 3:47 AM

Like so many Republicans, Gard is hell-bent to eliminate regulations even though the contamination of the lakes that has desrtoyed local commercial fishing and tourism. If such Libertarians were in charge, we would be fresh out of edible fish everywhere.

Green Bay News-Chronicle, February 25, 2004

A friend of mine commented the other day that he was disgusted by the corruption in Wisconsin state government these days. He said it used to be that a few miscreant legislators hid their actions under cover of darkness, but now they are all over the place and they're unashamed to go about their dirty work in the plain light of day. And why not? Who's going to punish them? The Ethics Board? Sure. Good one!

Some of the mis-representatives in northeastern Wisconsin have been pretty busy. I imagine them standing around a fire saying, "Double double, toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble." Representative John Gard, a Republican who used to be from Peshtigo but hasn't been seen there in a coon's age, must be feeling the heat about his chronic absence.

Recently Gard left the following message on my answering machine: "This is State Representative John Gard. Property taxes are too high in Wisconsin. That's why last year I led the fight to pass a 3-year property tax freeze. Families would have been able to keep more of their hard-earned money. Unfortunately, Governor Doyle vetoed the tax freeze. I will continue to battle for lower property taxes by passing the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and amend the constitution. It's time the taxpayers win. Call my home at 715-XXX-XXXX." (Sorry, no free advertising for MisRepresentative Gard.) These were some mighty partisan words for a guy who just criticized Doyle for being partisan. They are even more ironic than partisan, since Gard and his brethren cauldron stirrers have been actively involved in messing with the state's economics for many years.

Because I own a business, I have Caller ID for those occasions when new customers mumble their phone numbers. The message from Gard had a phone number different from the one listed above, and with an 866 exchange. The 715 number was Gard's "home office" in Peshtigo. Just to be sure, I drove up to Gard's home (near Sucker Brook), viewed the empty, darkened, and I'm sure, very cold house, and called the 715 number and got Rep. Gard's answering machine, which recommended I call him at his Madison number. I left a message. Sorry I missed you, John!

But really, why should Gard have to live in Peshtigo? His kids don't go to school there. He doesn't buy his groceries there. Gard stated that Democrats don't want him to see his kids. Gard has other options, like looking in the private sector for work that would allow him to see his kids. Other legislators have to put up with those absences, so why shouldn't Gard? Using this idea, why couldn't John represent Sun Prairie... oops! He already does!

Like so many Republicans, Gard is hell-bent to eliminate regulations for industry. Such Libertarian notions would cut the regulations on fishing, for example, even though the regulations have barely been able to keep sizeable numbers of fish in the lakes, and a lack of enforcement of regulations has allowed industry to contaminate those fish with numerous chemical poisons like DDT, dioxin, furans, and PCBs, and heavy metals like lead and mercury, scaring the bejeepers out of anyone with a measurable IQ who might otherwise consider eating a locally caught fish. That criminal act kicked the slats out of at least two local industries: commercial fishing and tourism. If such Libertarians were in charge, we would be fresh out of edible fish everywhere.

Gard is determined to cut taxes by hook or crook, and by doing so must cut services that promote a level playing field for all, instead of just for the corporations that pad Gard's nest so well. Gard now has a campaign chest of over 0,000, with each dollar representing a special favor demanded by the donors. According to a recent study by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, those special favors will cost each taxpayer in your home ,199. (This is in case you were wondering why your taxes are so high.) Those eliminated services will sooner or later have to include highway maintenance, snow plowing, police and fire services, child protective services, parks, assistance for folks in nursing homes, and so forth. We're already seeing that waysides are being closed. Just hold your water another 60 miles. Got a cramp? Too bad. Try a Baggie.

Meanwhile, Governor Doyle is bending over backwards to retain backwards businesses that pollute our fresh water, our air, and our soil. "Bending over backwards" is fancy talk for "tax breaks and special favors for profiteering corporations." As citizens of Wisconsin, we will have to bear those costs for the special tax breaks, the cushy state contracts, and the rigged bidding. We are unlikely to profit from any of these breaks unless we pay to play.

This sort of corporate kiss-kiss attitude is why our state is in debt, and it was sheparded by Gard and the Republican legislature, who have little room to sneer at Democrats.

When are you coming home, Johnny? You've been AWOL long enough. And when will you stop your John-foolery?

Curt Andersen is a Green Bay native. He is a 4-year Navy veteran (Communications Technician, CTO2), owns a small business, is vice president of Clean Water Action Council, and is an adjunct instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
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