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Thursday, April 5, 2012

 9:29 AM 

Barrett rips online video of budget repair bill remarks; unions stand by criticism

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett Wednesday renewed his call for the other candidates in the Dem guv primary to sign a clean campaign pledge.

In a press conference outside the Capitol building, Barrett noted an "anonymous, third-party video" posted to YouTube knocking the mayor's previous comments on last spring's budget repair bill shows why the pledge is so important.

"That is not the type of campaign anyone should be running," Barrett said, warning that a circular firing squad would be "the biggest mistake we can make as Democrats." Kathleen Falk, backed by WEAC and AFSCME, has declined to accept the pledge.

The video includes audio of Barrett at an event with Milwaukee conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes in which he says, in part, "(T)he bill would pass. And the bill should pass."

The full audio, however, shows Barrett was referencing a proposal to require public employees to pay more toward their health care and pensions, and that he supported their right to organize and to bargain.

Barrett said Thursday he'd "restore collective bargaining rights in this state" as governor, and defended his actions during debate over the budget repair bill.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, added Barrett was in frequent contact with Senate Dems as they stalled a vote on the bill in Illinois. He said what Barrett was advocating -- splitting up the collective bargaining and fiscal elements of the bill -- was shared by many of his Senate colleagues.

Erpenbach announced his endorsement of Barrett earlier this week.

AFSCME union leaders, however, aren’t backing down from the email they sent out earlier this week featuring the video, taking a new swipe at Barrett in the process.

“Ask yourself this: Why don’t I remember Tom Barrett’s role during those crucial weeks and why is there controversy about it 14 months after the fact?” the email read. “Because Tom Barrett was nowhere to be found when the chips were down, unless you were listening to Charlie Sykes.”

The email says the unions didn't produce the video posted on Friday. But union leaders wrote some media reports about the video lack context and “allowed Barrett and his operatives to manipulate Barrett’s hypothetical statement about a non-existent option -- more than a year after the fact -- to suggest he stood up to Walker. He didn’t.”

They wrote the election is about choosing a leader who can best stand up to Walker and “boldly” articulate a vision that could “heal the unprecedented wounds Walker has inflicted on our state.”

“Not a muddied record of tepid support for our movement or lukewarm opposition to Walker’s agenda -- but a true champion for Wisconsin’s workers and Wisconsin values,” reads the email signed by the leaders of AFSCME councils 24, 40 and 48.

-- By Staff

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