Editor Mike Myer begins today’s column, “No Incentive to Compromise,” by looking first at national politics. He writes:
Clearly, compromise is dead in Washington, D.C.
I assume Myer is referring to the recent government shutdown which was originally precipitated by the president’s rejection of a compromise between both parties in order to cater to Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter and the Republican anti-immigrant base. Nevertheless, Myer and our local “newspapers” supported Trump as he screamed like a little kid who wasn’t getting his way. (It should also be noted that Myer has never explained why the president didn’t ask for wall money in the first two years of his administration when Republicans controlled all three branches of government.)
The column, however, is not about national politics. Myer is unhappy that West Virginia's omnibus education bill (SB 451) was not passed and he blames the various school personnel union leaders (and what he claims is their unwillingness to compromise) for its demise. Of course, Myer, in his efforts to attack unions for having too much power, ignores the undemocratic and uncompromising way in which SB 451 got to the Senate floor in the first place. As was noted by critics at its introduction, all-encompassing bills such as SB 451 are rare. (How exactly were the Republicans showing a willingness to compromise if Democrats had to accept all parts of the bill or none?) The omnibus bill included pay raises, vouchers, anti-union provisions, and all sorts of wide-ranging requirements that affected public education. Shouldn’t each have been separate bills? They should have been, but then the Republicans could not have claimed that they were giving school personnel raises while doing their best to undercut public education and attack its unions.
Additionally, if you’re concerned about compromise, look at the process of how the bill got to the Senate floor. As the Charleston Gazette-Mail described, the senate majority leader knew that the bill would die in committee and so he undemocratically skipped that step:
Carmichael didn’t have enough support in his own Senate Finance Committee to pass the bill, having to use the convolution of calling the Senate into a Committee of the Whole to avoid having the bill die on an 8-9 vote in Finance.
It probably would have required compromise to get the bill through the committee. Carmichael didn’t want a compromised bill; he wanted an anti-public school personnel bill.
SB 451 was not a popular bill, but Carmichael and the charter school supporters were determined to get it passed. As I’ve documented, there was little hope for that given how it was created or brought to the Senate floor. Ironically, some of the legislators who voted against the bill might have voted for separate parts of the bill had they been given a chance. Of course, Myer doesn’t want to deal with this when he can simply scapegoat the unions.
In his rush to blame school personnel unions for the demise of SB 451, Myer also ignores that the Republican Party controls all three branches of the state government. Why did the Republican leadership in the House give up on the bill? Myer tells us that it is because school personnel can have their way because they can strike without consequences. Sorry, if the Republican Party believed that a majority supported its efforts, Republican legislators would certainly have passed the bill and accepted the consequences. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, and despite their public relations campaign last fall which included Ogden’s “newspapers” best efforts to spread the word that the Republican Party fully supported public education, it appears that most West Virginians understood that most of SB 451 was about punishing teachers and school personnel for last year’s strike.
Note -- our local Ogden papers previewed this column on Tuesday when the two Wheeling papers printed separate editorials blaming school unions for the strike. For those keeping score, the morning Intelligencer had seven anti-union references to the afternoon’s six.
Saturday evening update
If you're looking for a different point of view, the Charleston Gazette-Mail's political reporter, Phil Kabler, has a column up (likely for Sunday's paper) analyzing why the omnibus education bill failed:
Statehouse Beat: Requiem for a bad bill
Among other reasons, Kabler argues:
. . . . the secrecy surrounding the legislation, the lack of input from stakeholders or the public (who ultimately got all of 70 seconds each in public hearings in the House) and the failure to attempt to build bipartisan support combined to doom the bill.
Kabler has some good analysis.