There’s an old saying that talking to yourself doesn’t make you crazy – but when you start answering yourself, it means trouble.
A couple of days ago, Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan announced that he wanted pay freezes for the full Assembly. Fair enough – although I maintain that if elected representatives cave on an issue like this after a mere hint of criticism, they’ll literally cave on anything. But whatever.
In order to get the ball rolling, Sheridan had to make a request of the Joint Committee on Employment Relations – half of which he, as Speaker of the Assembly, controls. So yesterday, Sheridan had to essentially send himself a letter requesting he call a meeting of this committee. It turned out to be persuasive, as Sheridan apparently convinced himself that the commitee should meet.
In fact, we know Sheridan got the letter he wrote to himself, because he then actually responded to it. In his public response, he said:
“Given the record budget deficit facing Wisconsin, and the tough economic challenges working families are struggling with today, freezing the next scheduled legislator pay increase is simply the right thing to do. As Co- Chair of the Joint Committee on Employment Relations, I will see to it that the committee will consider and approve this action at our next scheduled meeting.”
Of course, this is all necessary to create a paper trail, so Sheridan can take credit for freezing legislator salaries when it finally happens. (Meanwhile, dozens of legislative staff will continue to make significantly more than their bosses.) But it just feeds the public’s view of the Legislature as being out of touch with how the real world works.