.Continued from “What’s (REALLY) Happening in Wisconsin?”…
Since Wisconsin Republicans voted on Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011 to limit union collective bargaining by passing the Budget Repair Bill , information blackout continues, and even people like me, living only 3 miles from the Wisconsin Capitol, are struggling to get all the facts.
I continue to be amazed at the lack of news or analysis provided by mainstream media concerning all of these events, as well as the radically liberal spin seen in articles which do appear.
Persevering in collecting facts during recent weeks, I am astounded at the lack of ethics permeating the actions of the left—of the union leaders and of the Democrats who represent them. Some of these are documented further below, in the Background section.
Republicans flee Madison for safety from angry mobs and death threats
Threat slipped under a Republican Senator's door
Fifteen minutes after their rushed March 9th vote to limit union collective bargaining, Republican legislators had to leave the Capitol building under police protection because they were being threatened by an angry mob. They were told to get out of Madison as quickly as possible, since Republicans were unsafe in Madison that night. The legislators filed out of the Capitol building past Democrat legislators in orange T-shirts, who reviled them, repeating phrases such as “Are you proud of yourself?” while Jesse Jackson (!) looked on. Outside, the Republican senators were harassed by an angry mob . Many Republicans received death threats , and some of their cars and homes were vandalized . Little, if any of this barbaric behavior by demonstrators, was reported by mainstream media other than FOX.
Democrats stall, backtrack on promises and misrepresent to the media
The “14 Dems” who had fled Wisconsin in order to obstruct (in violation of Senate rules) the controversial vote for which they did not have a majority, have been idolized by liberal Madison, and by the liberal media which clearly favors the Democrats. Media, Democrats and demonstrators routinely misrepresented the Governor and the Republicans. Their portrayal of Republicans as rigid and uncompromising tyrants was deceitful, because in actual fact numerous secret meetings were held near the Wisconsin-Illinois border between Democrats and Republicans from Feb 28 through March 9. During these meetings Democrats made numerous promises to compromise and to return to Madison, but reneged repeatedly, and ultimately it became apparent that Democrat leaders were stalling, were backtracking on offers, were being disingenuous, and were not negotiating in good faith.
The final blow to Republicans was a letter sent by minority leader Mark Miller (D) to Governor Walker, accusing the Governor of wanting to “keep lines of communications closed,” which was released first to the media before being delivered to the Governor’s Office. In light of the secret negotiations going on for 10 days, during which Republicans traveled regularly to the Illinos border for meetings, this letter represented an outright betrayal and lie. This was what compelled the Republicans to move forward on the vote in the absence of Democrats on the evening of March 9th.
The Budget Repair Bill is Passed
The vote was conducted in the Senate in the evening of March 9th, the Assembly approved the bill on March 10th, and Governor Walker signed it on March 11th. It could have been published by the Secretary of State Doug La Follette as early as by March 15th , the last step before implementation of the bill .
Democrats Desperately Try to Stall Publication of the Budget Repair Bill
However, Democrats (representing union leaders) have launched a number of stalling tactics of dubious validity during the past week (March 10-18), attempting to delay the publication and implementation of the Budget Repair Bill. There is little doubt that the vote was legal and that the law will stand, but by stalling implementation of the law, Democrats are buying time for unions to rush through contract extensions and pay raises.
Incidentally, the rushing through of union contracts does NOT benefit all union members— instead, it benefits only the union bosses and senior union members, at the expense of junior members. When union contracts with generous benefits are negotiated in lean fiscal times, the budget is used up to pay the senior member’s generous contracts, and junior members are then laid off as the money runs out. By negotiating generous benefits, the union leaders are feathering their own nests at the expense of the jobs of their own young union members.
The stalling commenced immediately on March 10th, with the Democrat Secretary of State stating that he plans to wait the maximum 10 days allowed before publishing the Budget Repair Bill, delaying publication until March 25 (in place of March 15). Next, several Dane County and City of Madison officials, including Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Dane county Executive Kathleen Falk, filed complaints with the Dane County District Attorney alleging that Wisconsin’s Open Meeting laws were violated when the Budget Repair Bill was passed.
These actions were taken despite the fact that the the Open Meetings law was not violated at all. Governor Walker ensured, prior to the vote, that the procedures adopted satisfied all relevant rules and statutes. Legal opinions from three nonpartisan legal agencies were obtained endorsing the procedures used, and even respected Democrat Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett had indicated that a separate vote without Democrats would be valid. Democrats were filing invalid accusations simply to buy time.
On March 10, the day after the Budget Repair Bill was passed, James Troupis, an attorney for Fitzgerald (the Senate Majority Leader) explained to Vicki McKenna on WIBA radio that the Open Meetings law was not violated and even does not to apply to Senate proceedings, “since the Wisconsin constitution is quite explicit in providing the Legislature with independent authority.” Jim Troupis indicated that the vote had satisfied all pertinent rules—the Wisconsin Constitution, the Open Meeting law (which itself states in section 19.87 sub 2 that no provision which conflicts [with Senate rules] shall apply), and the Senate rule 93.
Nevertheless, one week later, on March 18th, liberal Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order, barring the publication of the Budget Repair Bill , claiming the violation of the state’s open meetings law. The judge has not ruled on the claim, and is now on vacation!
The Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker released a joint statement condemning the judge’s decision:
“Dane County always seems to play by its own rules, but this morning, we saw a Dane County judge try to re-write the constitutional separation of powers… We fully expect an appeals court will find that the Legislature followed the law perfectly and likely find that today’s ruling was a significant overreach. “
One more motivation has been suggested (WIBA, March 21) for the desperate and dubious stalling tactics being exercised by Democrats on the Budget Repair Bill during the last 10 days – Democrats are attempting to stall the Bill for a sufficiently long time to effect the recall of the Republican Senators who voted for the bill — the newest bizarre strategy for instituting minority rule and defeating the democratic process with stalling and bluffing.
At the outset it is important to point out that in November of 2010 the citizens of Wisconsin elected Republicans into power— not only to the Governor’s mansion, but also into both houses of the State Legislature . Wisconsin, previously a Democrat stronghold, suddenly went “red” in the last election. Voters appeared to be motivated by a desire to cut spending, to cut deficits, and to avoid passing on crippling financial burdens to future generations of Wisconsinites– the “Tea Party” philosophy. Conservative is the new Liberal .
Madison, the Capitol City of Wisconsin, historically very liberal, locally referred to as “Moscow on the Mendota (a local lake),” was now a radically liberal island surrounded by a much more conservative sea of Wisconsin Republicans. Madison is the home of 40,000 liberal college students on a campus adjacent to the Capitol building, home of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Madison is so entrenched in liberalism that only Democrats can be found as candidates on Madison Mayoral ballots.
Wisconsin pulls in their belts
Now that the newly elected Republican Governor and Republican houses of legislature have embarked on fulfilling their campaign promises to reign in the reckless and out-of-control spending of the previous Democrat administration, numerous state employees have suffered cuts in salary and benefits—including my husband, an engineering professor at the State University, UW Madison . Despite my husband’s status as a Wisconsin Distinguished Professor and a global reputation in automotive research on engine efficiency and emission controls, he has not even received a cost of living increase in about 7 years. Last year, he had the equivalent of a 5% salary reduction in the form of a mandatory furlough, and just recently we received notification that his take-home salary would be reduced by an additional 10%, in the form of reduced benefits (previously paid by the employer, the state of WI, and now paid for by us). Unquestionably, this will affect our entire future.
We have not complained, because we saw the reason behind the pay cuts. If the salary and benefits of senior members of the University community like us were not cut, then junior members (those without tenure) would be the first to lose jobs, to allow us to continue to enjoy our comforts. Our duty to pull in our belts when financial times are tight, rather than watching the young people around us become unemployed.
Unions not out for the common good
Teachers? or Union Power?
This is the crux of the matter—willingness of senior members of organizations to take cuts so that junior members would not have to be laid off. The willingness to put the common good before the personal good. This is what the union leaders of Wisconsin (and of America) seem unwilling to do.
The unions of Wisconsin enjoy many benefits and have been extremely privileged. There are dozens of states without Wisconsin’s collective bargaining for public employees, and in fact most federal workers do not have collective bargaining rights. We value our teachers in Wisconsin, and they deserve the great treatment they had while the economy was good. However, now that financial hardship is upon us, teacher union leaders do not have the same philosophy that most Wisconsinites have of sharing the sacrifice across the board. They have been rushing through contract extensions before the new budget cuts are made, and have even been attempting to force through pay raises as well. Meanwhile, typical non-union Wisconsin workers earn about 30% less than union workers in the same jobs, and are not complaining about the necessary belt-tightening.
This is not a uniquely Wisconsin phenomenon. Unions across America have been hustling to make similar changes in advance of the budget cuts which Tea Party activists demanded in the last election, and union leaders have seen this battle coming.
Union bosses mobilized their resources to fight in Wisconsin – Madison is one of the first places these legislative fiscal reversals have come up, Madison is a liberal union-supportive environment, and Madison is filled with graying radicals and leftist college students. Madison could be relied upon to provide numerous protesters downtown, adjacent to the campus. With the organizational help of the Democratic National Committee, the rallies in Madison were huge these past several weeks, and also included protesters bused in from across the entire nation.
What most demonstrators did not and still do not realize, is that even now, as Democrats continue political maneuvers to stall the implementation of the new restrictions on union benefits, union leaders are continuing to rush through more contract extensions which will ensure the senior union members continued comfort and benefits at the expense of laying off junior union members — who unknowingly have been out at the Wisconsin Capitol demonstrating for the union bosses.
The informational black-out; facts unreported by media
Wisconsin Capitol grounds damage
Demonstrations in Madison anything BUT peaceful
The demonstrators at the Wisconsin Capitol during the past month were loud, aggressive, unruly, and they violated many Madison ordinances. They damaged the Capitol building, littered the downtown, destroyed the grass and Capitol grounds, brought ammunition onto Capitol grounds, harassed Republican senators, and paraded vulgar signs in and around the Capitol in front of young children. This past weekend I personally witnessed Democrats with bullhorns yelling vulgar language at Majority Leader Fitzgerald outside the Capitol building, while children in strollers were wheeled by.
City agencies assist unions and help thwart the Governor and Legislature
The Madison City government, Madison police, Madison firefighters, and Madison media all collaborated to facilitate the union protesters and to misrepresent the belligerent and threatening tone of the demonstrations to the outside world.
The Mayor sided with the demonstrators, instructed Madison Police not to remove the demonstrators violating Capitol visiting hours, and allowed false statements to be published on the City of Madison website which proclaimed that all demonstrations were peaceful and respectful. They were not.
The Madison Police, whose unions are exempt from the proposed legislation, still sided with the unions and stopped ticketing cars downtown for parking violations, did not arrest demonstrators for violating Capitol hours, for destruction of property, for harassment of Republican Senators , for defacement of property, for littering, and for numerous other legal infringements.
One Republican Senator was pursued and harassed by a crowd of 200, and not one policeman was in sight to protect him. Eventually, firefighters arrived to escort him away from the barbaric crowd. FOX was the only news channel to report on this incident.
Media misrepresents events in Madison
The media misrepresented the belligerent and threatening behavior of the protestors, and misrepresented the issues at the heart of the dispute, casting union protesters in a favorable light while vilifying the government which was trying to carry out the work it was elected to do.
The media glorified the 14 Democrats who fled Wisconsin to prevent the presence of the quorum needed to pass the legislation, while failing to report on the duplicity and outright dishonesty of the Democratic negotiation tactics – which included numerous secret meetings with Republicans near the state border, numerous promises to compromise and to return to Wisconsin, followed by numerous reversals and failures to live up to promises.
Unions are out-maneuvered by the Governor
When Governor Walker finally realized the duplicitous nature of Democrat “negotiations” which were only being used for stalling, he outmaneuvered the Democrats by rewriting the budget repair bill. Appropriation of funds was removed so that the bill would not require a quorum to pass, and could be passed without the presence of the 14 missing Democrats. On Wednesday, March 9th, senate Republicans passed the new budget repair bill. On Thursday, the Assembly approved it. Prior to Wednesday vote, the Governor had the procedure endorsed by three nonpartisan legal agencies. The Mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett, a prominent State Democrat, had also expressed agreement that the vote could be taken without the 14 missing Democrat senators.
The rest of the news from the last 10 days has already been reported above.
Where to from here?
The only remaining question is whether the citizens of Wisconsin, as well as citizens across America where similar tactics are being used by union bosses, will withstand the lies and misrepresentations and sustain their resolution to repair the economy both in Wisconsin and nationwide.
Hateful and threatening images remain
(vulgar images have been omitted):
The chalk outline is customarily used to indicate where the murder victim once was.
Teachers? or Socialists?
Message scrawled on Republican Senator's window at the Wisconsin Capitol
Peaceful and Respectful Protest?
Freedom to trash the Wisconsin Capitol? Or freedom to subvert democracy?
Graffiti and chalk body outlines all over the Wisconsin Capitol grounds