Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Walker attack spreads to public education

POSTED BY ORHAN

On Sunday Wisconsin Gov. “Chainsaw” Scott Walker signed into law a state budget cutting $800 million from public education, while insisting state school districts will be better off after the cuts. Milwaukee public schools will be the hardest hit, with 988 full-time layoffs coming this week.

In an interview Monday Walker said, “The tools we gave them allow them to more than offset, and in some cases, actually net more revenue than they would have otherwise with the state budget. Now, those are changes you may agree or disagree with how we got there, but in the end, they’re going to fare better.”

The budget expands the state’s “school choice” voucher program, providing more public funds for private schools, and permitting Milwaukee parents to send their children to any private school in the state.

Lobbying group The American Federation for Monetizing Children, which pumped resources into the legislative effort, praised the expansion, as well as the “Once In, Always In” provision that will ensure, according to economist John Lott, that “once a student gets a voucher, that student will always be able to keep it, regardless of their family’s future income. In previous years, a student who received a voucher could lose eligibility for the program because his or her parents happened to increase their income in a given year.”

The idea of students being so harshly penalized for a simple reversal of their parents’ fortunes must have been more than the legislators could bear to contemplate.  And no doubt school district workers are bursting with gratitude for the “tools” Walker gave them.

Wisconsin to defund Planned Parenthood

POSTED BY ORHAN

According to the NY Daily News, Wisconsin is set to become the fourth state to defund Planned Parenthood, joining Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina.

Gov. Scott Walker is expected to sign off on a budget that will eliminate federal and state funding to nine of the state’s 25 Planned Parenthood centers by the end of the month.

The state’s new budget includes a $1 million cut to Planned Parenthood. All the Republicans and one independent voted in favor of the plan while all the Democrats opposed it.

Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman argued that the new budget doesn’t cut enough funding from Planned Parenthood: “There’s a very ugly side to this organization, and I regret that they’re going to take such a tiny cut in this budget”.

The nine clinics that will be affected by the budget cuts provide low-cost health care to approximately 12,000 uninsured women.

Teri Huyck, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said she is disappointed that political ideology will take precedence over health care.

“It is greatly disturbing to me that some politicians’ personal beliefs are trumping our shared responsibility to make sure women and men have access to preventive reproductive health care, which is not only essential for their own lives, but also a cost-saver for all Wisconsin taxpayers,” said Huyck.

Wisconsin update – Supreme Court overturns collective bargaining ruling

POSTED BY ORHAN

(updated below)

From the Wisconsin State Journal: Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority when she voided Gov. Scott Walker’s measure limiting public sector collective bargaining, the state Supreme Court ruled today in a 4-3 decision.

The conservative majority said Sumi “usurped the legislative power which the Wisconsin constitution grants exclusively to the Legislature” by voiding the law. Sumi ruled the state’s open meetings law was violated when Republicans met and amended the bill in March, allowing the Republican-controlled Senate to bypass a Democratic boycott.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissented, writing that the authors of the court’s order, along with concurring Justice David Prosser — lacked “a reasoned, transparent analysis” and incorporate “numerous errors of law and fact.”

“Only with a reasoned, accurate analysis can a court assure the litigants and the public that a decision is made on the basis of facts and law,” Abrahamson wrote, “free from a judge’s personal ideology and free from external pressure by the executive or legislative branches, by partisan political parties, by public opinion or by special interest groups.”

The State Department of Administration “is reviewing the Supreme Court’s order and will begin implementing (the law) when appropriate.”

Bottom line: Prosser voted exactly as expected, and if Kloppenburg had beaten him in the State Supreme Court race, the Republicans would be singing a different tune tonight.

UPDATE:

Also from the Wisconsin State Journal: One day after the state Supreme Court cleared the way for Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial bill limiting collective bargaining to become law, several labor organizations filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in an effort to prevent some of its provisions from taking effect in federal court.

The lawsuit was brought by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, Wisconsin State Employees Union, Wisconsin Council of County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME District Council 48 representing Milwaukee County municipal employees, AFT-Wisconsin, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

The groups are challenging the constitutionality of the bill they say would destroy collective bargaining rights for all but a select group of public sector workers deemed “public safety” employees, including certain firefighters and law enforcement officers.

Walker responded to the suit saying, “I think overwhelmingly the people of the state feel the legal action is done and it’s time to move forward.”

Recall signatures for another Wisconsin Republican submitted

POSTED BY ORHAN

Today Wisconsin activists submitted over 100% of the signatures needed to “recall” Republican state senator Luther Olsen from office.

Signatures are now submitted against 3 Republicans — with local volunteers working to recall at least 3 more, according to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Blog Blue Cheddar writes, “About 24,000 signatures were filed today with Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board by the “Committee to Recall Olsen”. The group needed to collect 14,733 signatures.”

Dem edges Republican in Wisconsin state Supreme Court race

POSTED BY ORHAN

WaPo’s Greg Sargent reports:

In the nationally-watched Wisconsin state Supreme Court race, liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg has edged ahead of conservative sitting justice David Prosser by just over 200 votes.

We still don’t know who is going to win, and we may not know for some time to come. But even if Kloppenburg loses, labor strategists argue, this will have constituted a victory for unions and Dems — proof of Scott Walker’s continuing toxicity, and of the staying power of the grassroots energy he unleashed. They’re right.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Thursday Evening from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website:

In a political bombshell, the clerk in a Republican stronghold released new vote totals adding a net total of 7,582 new votes in the tight state Supreme Court race to Justice David Prosser, swinging the race significantly in his favor.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said Thursday that she failed to save in her computer and consequently report 14,315 votes cast in the city of Brookfield, omitting them entirely in an unofficial tally released after Tuesday’s election. The new totals give 10,859 more votes to Prosser from Brookfield and 3,456 more to Kloppenburg, she said. Smaller discrepancies turned up in two other communities as well.

First Wisconsin recall against GOP to be filed today

POSTED BY ORHAN

From TalkingPointsMemo:

Wisconsin Democrats now say they have more than enough signatures to launch a recall of Republican state Sen. Dan Kapanke, in the battle over Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) new law curtailing public employee unions. They are filing the petitions today — less than halfway through the 60-day window for gathering the signatures.

The La Crosse Tribune reports:

Recall organizer Pat Scheller said volunteers have gathered more than the 15,588 signatures needed and that they plan to take them to Madison after a noon rally today at La Crosse City Hall.

It is expected to be the first completed of 19 active recall efforts registered between Feb. 24 and March 2 against 16 senators.

I’m wondering, are these REAL Americans?

Scriptor Obscura posted this over at The Conservative Lie. Warms my heart.

Feeding kids doesn’t bring in those campaign contributions

Here’s a concise expression of our misplaced governmental priorities. We need to ask, as Orhan did in a comment thread, what’s a country for anyway?

From a recent Robert Greenwald column:

“the entire alleged shortfall in Wisconsin could be covered by bringing just 180 troops home from Afghanistan.” How about that.

While we’re at it, let’s note that today is the 161st day of the tenth year of the war in Afghanistan.

Most Americans back the unions

POSTED BY ORHAN

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll, “Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector Unions”, shows some interesting results.  Americans overall are against cutting the collective bargaining rights of public unions by almost two to one.  Breaking out the results by political affiliation, a slight majority of Republicans supported removing some bargaining rights, but were outnumbered by opposing majorities of Democrats and independents.  On the whole, Americans (including close to half of Republicans) are not opposed to public workers engaging in collective bargaining.

I think both the politicians and pundits are in for a rude awakening.

UPDATE BY MOE: Public Policy Polling, a Wall Street Journal fav, says it’s about 52/48 in Wisconsin right now, leaning in favor of the unions. There will no doubt be more polls in the coming days.

The politics of public despair

POSTED BY ORHAN

I’ve been listening to Part 1 and Part 2 of the Ian Murphy prank call to Scott Walker, where Murphy impersonates billionaire David Koch.  Only Walker knows what was in his mind at the time, but a few conclusions about him can be drawn from the exchange.

The word “compromise” is not in Walker’s lexicon: “…if they think I’m caving, they’ve been asleep for the last eight years”, “I’m not negotiating”, “I’ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County and won, even in a county where I’m overwhelmingly overpowered politically,…’cause I don’t budge.”

Walker sees his base as consisting of two main groups: 1) wealthy business leaders, and 2) resentful working people, regular people who’ve either been savaged by the system or are just scraping by and are telling themselves, “I don’t have a secure middle class job with benefits and a pension, why should the other guy have those things?”  Today there are a lot of folks like this in America, and Walker taps into this feeling.  He brings up a story in the New York Times that highlights “a guy who was laid off two years ago…he’s been laid off twice by GM…everybody else in his town has had to sacrifice except for all these public employees and it’s about damn time they do”.  Back in the thirties, muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens captured it perfectly when he quoted a Pennsylvania politician, “We know that public despair is possible and that that is good politics.

Walker is a conservative true believer with the sense that he is riding the crest of history.  He talks about conservatives the way evangelicals talk about themselves: he refers to people as being “one of us” or “not one of us”.  He refers to a Democratic senator who made a lot of money in the private sector as “a little more open-minded” but “he’s not a…conservative. He’s just a pragmatist.”  Towards the end of the call he likens Ronald Reagan’s firing of the air-traffic controllers to the “first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism” and compares it to the current situation in Wisconsin: “this is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history”, “…we’re doing the just and right thing for the right reasons, and it’s all about getting our freedoms back”, “The bottom line is we’re gonna get the world moving here because it’s the right thing to do.”

The notion that Walker’s legislation is an emergency measure required by the current crisis is ludicrous.  It’s just a continuation of the agenda he’s
championed his entire career: privatization, deregulation, tax cuts, cuts in social services to poor and working people.  And it’s been the plan all along.

We have always been at war with Eastasia

Okay, so FOX News did another one of their silly “oh my goodness! we put the wrong information up! right on the screen! and then talked about it! for a long time! but that’s okay because,  now,  in the last minute of the show, we’re correcting that. (Not correcting that old graphic of course, just telling you.)”

Misinformation is  consequential and FOX knows that. People are in the street fighting for their future and other people are getting angry about it. And FOX says a Gallup poll says the exact opposite of what it actually said.

Gallup asked if respondents favored or opposed taking away collective bargaining rights.  The poll showed 61% saying it was wrong to take them away and 33% said okay, take them away.

Here’s what FOX put up (and then used to bolster their own position)

Scott Walker vs. Wisconsin

POSTED BY ORHAN

On the topic of Wisconsin’s Budget Repair Bill – this came from ginandtacos by way of Democratic Underground, HuffPo, and Rortybomb. Ginandtacos, whose analysis is excellent, read the entire 144-page bill and found this:

“16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants….the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state… no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project…”

Sounds like the state will be able to sell off or contract out the operation of its energy plants with zero accountability and zero public debate. As to who’ll end up benefiting the most from this, right now the bets are on Koch Industries.

Scott Walker vs. the unions

POSTED BY ORHAN

The most controversial parts of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill are in the section “State and Local Government and School District Labor Relations” that covers limits to collective bargaining by public employees. Some of the important points:

  • Many public employees will lose all rights to collectively negotiate better contracts.
  • For public unions that can still negotiate better contracts, the best they’ll be able to do is fight to keep wages even with inflation – it will be illegal to address any other grievance.
  • Public union members who participate in an organized action to stop or slow work (e.g., strike) can be fired – the unions’ main bargaining chip will be swept off the table.
  • Even if a public union manages to negotiate a favorable contract, it can’t last more than a year.
  • Public unions will be forced to hold yearly elections just to maintain their own existence.

Now if that isn’t union-busting, I don’t know what is.

Capitalism is a stool with three legs

Capital. Resources. Labor. Remove any one of those, and you do not have an economy. 

“If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar.”

-  Abraham Lincoln

h/t The Back Channel Blog

Lawmakers on the lam!

A NOTE AFTER THE FACT: My post below fails to note  that this Wisconsin fight isn’t capital vs. labor. It’s different in that the private sector isn’t involved. But the sentiment doesn’t change – there’s been an assault on labor (you and me!) for decades.

I see Wisconsin* State Democratic legislators have taken to the road to prevent a quorum vote on a budget cutting bill because if they stayed in the State they could be legally compelled to attend a session. So they’ve removed themselves from the jurisdiction, It’s all over the news; here is a good place to keep up on it – from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Those ladies and gents in Madison are following in the footsteps of giants. In the footsteps of Texans, that is.

May, 2003. Memories . . .  

“With action in the Texas House brought to a standstill, roughly 50 state Democratic representatives said they would remain in neighboring Oklahoma “as long as it takes” to block a Republican-drawn redistricting plan that could cost them five seats in Congress.  “There’s 51 of us here today, and a quorum of the Texas House of Representatives will not meet without us,” said state Rep. Jim Dunnam.

The 2003 Texas stampede to Oklahoma inspired  Mr. Thomas Delay himself to exert a little  unlawful  pressure on State authorities to travel over those state lines. Which was bad. Bad, bad, bad, even though those miscreant lawmakers (who’d found themselves a nice motel with a good pool table as I recall) had surely annoyed Mr. Delay, he probably wishes he hadn’t done it. Because that was one of the things for which Mr. Delay was investigated and indicted. Ah, hubris.)

Good times. Who says politics is dull?

* ALSO:  It would be interesting if this centuries old capital/labor battle were to be fought on the home ground of the last century’s greatest progressive, Robert LaFollette. These guys forget that the ‘right to collective bargaining’ was established after much blood had been spilled, and the parties realized that talking was better than shooting.

 (The tension of course never went entirely away and there has always been a faction that would destroy ‘labor’ – actually they want the laborers, they just don’t want uppity folk looking over their shoulders to see if safety is being observed or if wages are fair.)