Wausau mayor on parade snit: play nice or pay up

Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple released a statement Monday afternoon; probably after receiving a phone call or two about the Marathon County Central Labor Council’s decision to keep Republican legislators out of the annual Labor Day parade.  I suppose he will now be getting a few more:

“The City is a co-sponsor of the Labor Day parade event, because we provided the payment for the insurance premium for the event, and we agreed to erect a stage and provide city services at no cost to the Marathon County Central Labor Council.

“The banning of a political party from participation at any event co-sponsored by the City is against public policy and not in the best interest of all the citizens of the City of Wausau. And therefore, we encourage the event organizer to invite all interested parties, or reimburse the city for other costs.”

* * *

From the standpoint of the city, this position makes a lot of sense and it may even be the only correct answer. And while the mayor might be accused of taking sides by some, he really isn’t. In fact, it’s about the last thing he would want to do.

Municipal offices like mayor, city council member and county board supervisor in Wisconsin are all nonpartisan. Some make few bones about where they land,  but Mayor Tipple is about as nonpartisan as they come. I never even met him until the night he was elected in 2004 and I’ve been hanging around politics in this town since the early 1980s. Nevertheless, I found Jim Tipple easy to get along with and we worked together well. By 2008, I was working on his re-election campaign and I still can’t tell you which way he leans on a partisan basis.

We had a beer together Saturday and I don’t recall if the Labor Day topic even came up, but I think Tipple may be the best possible person to arbitrate a disagreement like the parade snit. That’s because beyond not being partisan, Tipple is not even very political. Neither fish nor fowl, he does a far better than average job of avoiding controversies and he’s not ego-driven. I would say that his philosophy is pretty much encapsulated by that famous Rodney King quote: “Please, can we all just get along here?”

So the fact that he made a statement on this matter pretty much says one thing: he had no choice.

And now that the mayor has provided a gracious way out of a potentially deteriorating situation for all parties involved, I would suggest that the Labor Day parade organizers take it. The alternative is to press on and pay significant charges to close off the activities to people who may well end up not attending anyway, in view of the events leading up to now. It just seems a little silly to cut the baby in half.

But for those who still have hard feelings, here’s a link to the “Duffy Get Your Own Damn Parade” page on Facebook, which was brought to my attention this evening and magically grew from eight to 97 members while I was writing this:


Failing that, there are several voluminous and growing collections of online comments on various local media sites, where people are flailing away at each other with reckless abandon to predictably little avail. We’ll just have to see how this thing goes between now and Monday.


Wausau Daily Herald editorial, 8-30-2011:


Labor Day Parade opened to GOP participation, 8-31-2011:




One Response to “Wausau mayor on parade snit: play nice or pay up”

  1. This entire thing is just simply sad… not just the parade… but simply what our two-party political system has turned into.

    This is no longer a state (or a country for that matter) of right and left… it is turning into a situation of right and wrong.. black and white. Gray, although not gone, is going quickly.

    Looking back, for me personally it seems that this divide really started to open back when Newt was Speaker. It probably started a long time before that, but that is when I started really noticing it.

    I remember being a fan of Rush back when the Dems ran the congress in the early 90’s. I remember watching his half hour TV show that I had to stay up really late to watch. I remember how that show, and Rush seemed to change when the power turned over to the Reps, was it 94 or 96?

    The problem with BOTH polticial parties is that they see a win as a de facto endorsement of their agenda, a vote of confidence, a symbol of a job well done and encouragement to continue the path even farther.

    In fact, In the last 15+ years, I don’t think that any election should be taken by either party as endorsement of the job they are doing. I think that the electorate is faced with the choice of bad or worse, and when there is change, the electorate is not saying they want what the other party is selling, they are saying they are sick of the crappy job the party in power is doing and figures the other party can’t do any worse (so far, the other party has proven that is can in fact make the situation worse).

    In 2008 the country turned from Red to Blue. This didn’t happen because the country believed in the Democratic Party line, it happened because the country thought the Republicans were doing a crappy job and putting the other party in charge couldn’t make things worse.

    So.. what did the Dems do with this “vote of confidence?” They shut the republicans out, they passed what they wanted with no input from Republicans, no compromise. They ran the country their way, unchecked. Unable to learn from history, the Democrats seemed surprised at their “shelacking” on election night 2010 when they lost the House.

    Of course, Republicans are also ignorant of history. The voters were not saying they wanted the republican agenda, the voters were saying they did NOT want an unchecked democratic one. Yet, this concept of compromise is completely lost on them. Both parties are too busy fighting for the steering wheel that that the completely missed the fact the car is not heading toward a cliff, but has already left the road and is in free-fall.

    This is no different on the state level. The Dems were in power and and refused to play nice. The voters kicked the bums out, and put republicans in charge. Instead of taking the high road, the Reps have learned from the dems how to pass their agenda unchecked while they can.

    The next election we are sure to see the power flip again. On or off, right or wrong, black or white. The moderates are getting pretty fed up…. and it is only a matter of time before the right wing nut jobs in government AND the left wing nut jobs in government realize that the vast majority of the people they govern are neither really far right or really far left and are instead somewhere in the middle.

    The revolution is coming my friends – it is interesting times in which we live.

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