March 10, 2011 by USA Post
Wisconsin, John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as a correspondent in Washington. He is the deputy editor of the Capital Times, the newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin.
State Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, the former co-chairman of the legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee, said he began to feel as if living in a “third world junta.”
The Wisconsin State Senator Bob Jauch, a senior Democrat, said he witnessed what feels like “a coup”.
Marty Beil, head of AFSCME Council 24, the largest state of the union of public employees, “said Wisconsin had been transformed into” a banana republic. ”
And thousands of Wisconsinites, men and women, adults and their children, public sector employees and private sector workers have paid into the State Capitol in Madison, shouting: “! Shame Shame Shame”
At the end of one of the most remarkable days of American political history, a state once considered among the most enlightened and progressive in the country is governed by cooperative red Republican whose contempt for the rules – and the popular will – is so extreme that the longest serving legislator in the nation, the State of Wisconsin Senator Fred Risser, Madison, a Democrat, said: “They did not simply bent the law, they broke.”
Risser is right. After weeks of intense debate both inside and outside the Capitol, and at a time when most Wisconsinites thought a compromise was in the bid, Republican legislative leaders abruptly announced they would pass the components more draconian Bill Scott Walker Governor’s budget repair – including a move to strip officials of their collective bargaining rights.
They could not pass the bill that Walker has proposed. As a measure of Walker was a budget bill that would have required a quorum and no quorum could be achieved due to the absence of 14 Senate Democrats – who have fled to Illinois, to establish a negotiating position for amend the bill.
Thus, Republican stripped the so-called “non-economic” component of the bill, including the assault on collective bargaining, and transmitted in a form that does not require a quorum.
They have, without a hearing, without debate and without regard to the state open meetings laws.
They did it in less than two hours without even notifying key Democrats.
They did so despite the objections of the Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, a Kenosha Democrat, who repeatedly told members of the Legislative Conference Committee that proposed the bill to passage: “Mr. President, it is a violation of the law. ”
Barca point was well taken.
But the Republicans did not listen or care. They literally left the meeting they talked about.
A few minutes later, the Senate passed the bill by a margin of 18-1. No Democrats were present and that the State Senator Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, voted “no.”
It was a shameful spectacle, and it is almost certain to be repeated on Thursday at the Assembly of the state – even though Barca and his Democratic colleagues set up a final struggle for workers’ rights and the rule law.
As the Senate voted Wednesday night, cries of “Shame Shame Shame!” were heard in the room.
People by the hundreds, then thousands, had raced to the Capitol to let their representatives know what all the polls have confirmed: the overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites opposes this bill. His supporters – billionaire campaign contributors and Washington-based think tanks – may have won a round Wednesday night.
But it was a surprise attack rather than an honest victory.
And it will inspire an appropriate response: Protests now, and the recall and withdrawal of Republican senators in the short term.
Some Republicans think, “Cooler heads will prevail.” They are wrong. The head cold, calm and rational Wisconsinites will be busy in coming days: the collection of signatures from petitions for recall.
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