Update: Wausau, Wis. Mayor Tells Labor Day Union Sponsors to Invite GOP Pols or Pay All Costs

The plot thickens.

On Sunday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that "GOP politicians aren't welcome in this year's Labor Day parade" in Wausau, Wisconsin, because, according to the Marathon County Central Labor Council, which until today apparently thought it was the only sponsor of said parade, "organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker's rights."

The Labor Council found out today from Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple that they are not the parade's only sponsor, as a video replay of a local station's news segment at Breitbart (HT to NB commenter "DaChew") informs us (transcript follows the jump; bolds are mine throughout):


... Wausau's mayor is now calling on Labor Day parade organizers to let Republicans participate.

We first broke the news last week that Marathon County labor leaders had decided not to include the GOP in this year's parade.

Well now Mayor Jim Tipple says the city is a cosponsor of the parade because it pays the insurance premium, builds a stage and provides city services during the parade for free.

Tipple released a statement this afternoon saying, quote: "The banning of a political party at any event co-sponsored by the city is against public policy and not in the best interest of all the citizens ... we encourage the event organizer to invite all interested parties, or reimburse the city for other costs."

Reuters also has coverage containing additional items of interest, and a "clever" instance of bias by omission:

... The move in Wausau, Wisconsin, came after a county labor official said last week that Republican politicians were not welcome at the event due to their party's stance against collective bargaining when state lawmakers voted to curtail it earlier this year.

Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple told Reuters on Tuesday that the decision to exclude elected Republicans "flies in the face of public policy."

"This is not a political rally, it's a parade, for God's sake," Tipple said, noting that taxpayer money is used by the city to pay for staging the event. Tipple's office is nonpartisan, and he claims no affiliation with either political party.

He said the annual cost of the parade, including insurance, setting up and taking down a stage, and police personnel, runs anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 each year.

... (Marathon County Labor Council President Randy) Radtke told WAOW-TV in Wausau that the labor council stood by its decision to ban Republicans. Tipple said he had not been told if the labor council planned to pay the costs.

Note that the first Reuters paragraph leaves readers who might somehow be unaware of the Badger State's dramatics earlier this year (the engaged readers who come here might be surprised at how many people are indeed unaware) with the impression that GOP lawmakers curtailed collective bargaining rights for all unionized workers in the state. The item finally makes it clear that the legislation affected only public-sector employees in Paragraph 7 of 10. I wonder why (no, not really)?

Here's more from WLS in Chicago, with some Associated Press input:

Mayor Jim Tipple told WLS Radio's Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft show that the city provides an insurance premium, a stage setup and police traffic control for the parade. Tipple says the city will require the Labor Council to reimburse the city for those expenses if its decision isn't reversed.

"They will underwrite the cost of the parade that we normally would do for them. If that happens, the parade will still go on. They have the permit that was issued by the city. That'll happen," Tipple said.

Should the Labor Council continue to refuse to reverse their decision, Tipple said he wouldn't be surprised if the parade was boycotted. Tipple says if someone wished, they could throw a parade that was inclusive of Republicans.

Unsolicited financial advice to Mayor Tipple: Don't let a GOP-forbidding parade start without a 100% upfront payment.

Also, an unsolicited observation: It seems that if Mayor Tipple intends to continue to have the city co-sponsor the parade if the union doesn't change its stance, he will no longer be as "nonpartisan" as he claims to be, even if the union reimburses the city's costs. I would certainly expect that at a minimum he won't ride in the parade as he has done in previous years (as seen in the video).

Parting question: Will the Labor Council give in, or will there be a MoveOn.org fundraiser to keep the rascally Republicans off the parade route on Labor Day?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.