I think it’s important to understand that Wisconsin allows recall elections to be used more broadly than a lot of other states. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wrote a very concise explanation of the way recall elections work in Wisconsin:
If what Walker and Republicans did is a sufficient turnoff to voters that the required number sign on for recall elections, and if those voters then replace these Republicans with Democrats, it will have been every bit as democratic as their election in the first place. In Wisconsin, recalls are democratic.
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”—Jack Kerouac, On the Road. He would have turned 89 today; happy birthday, Mr. Kerouac.
“Tomorrow all 14 of us will head to the capitol, where we’re going to thank the people of Wisconsin for stepping up. We’ll be marching to the capitol. It is a homecoming.”—Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), on the Wisconsin 14 coming home.
You can watch what happened here. The link should take you to essentially the WI. version of CSPAN and you can watch it on that site. Please, please, please take 5 minutes to watch it. It is a tragedy you have to see to believe.
This special committee was convened to essentially move the collective bargaining elements of the “budget repair bill” into a separate bill that could be voted on without any Senate Democrats; quorum was not needed because stripping people of collective bargaining rights is apparently not considered “fiscal.” In the clip posted above, Democratic Rep. Peter Barca tells it like it is. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald allowed no discussion, no motions, gave no notice (which would seemingly violate the open meetings law?) and took roll while Barca was still talking. In less than five munutes, this committee passed the bill, moving it to the Senate, which then passed it, as well. The Assembly will likely vote on it tomorrow. I am heartbroken.
“In thirty minutes, 18 State Senators undid fifty years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten. Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people. Tomorrow we will join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government.”—Statement just released from Democratic Senator Mark Miller
The bill that strips public employees of collective bargaining passed the Senate 18-1 (all Republicans; Wisconsin 14 still in Illinois although they are reportedly now heading back; Schultz was the one “no” vote).
The bill now has to go to the Assembly. The capitol is once again being closed to the public and the capitol police are now moving to evacuate members of the public from the building. None of the Republican Senators who just voted to pass this will speak to the press or the public. Sorry for this super rambling post…this is all happening very quickly and nobody saw it coming. As soon as I can get facts together, I will try to explain more fully.
Republican legislators separated the collective bargaining aspect of the bill from the other aspects of the “budget repair bill” on the grounds that the portion pertaining to collective bargaining is unrelated to fiscal issues (which is completely contrary to everything they have said over the past three weeks…”it’s all about the budget”). Quorum is not necessary if they’re not voting on a fiscal issue. Therefore, the Republicans are voting on that now. Updates to come ASAP. I never ever would have imagined I would see something like this in the United States. It flies in the face of democracy.
Community members in Milwaukee have organized a town hall forum tomorrow (3/10) to discuss the impact of Scott Walker’s budget proposal on local municipalities. The event is free and open to the general public, and will include a question and answer segment.
Time: 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Place: Cardinal Stritch University (6801 N. Yates Road); Kliebhan Conference Center in Bonaventure Hall
Guest Speakers Include:Rep. Sandy Pasch (Democrat from the 22nd District) & Milwaukee County Supervisor Theo Lipscomb. Please note: Republican Sen. Alberta Darling has been invited but has not responded at all to the request.
“I’ve worked with seven governors, five as a legislator, and Governor Walker is the first one who comes to the peace table with a hand grenade.”—Wisconsin State Senator Bob Jauch, D-Poplar (via lefan-o-rama)
Republican State Senator Leah Vukmir held a “town hall meeting” with her constituents last night. It lasted a little more than 20 minutes before she called it off and left. I stumbled upon this great post written by a woman who attended the event. It’s a really well written first-hand account of the meeting, and the way the author describes Sensenbrenner (who hosted the meeting) is priceless.
P.S. The Journal Sentinel had a blurb about this online, but, in true Journal Sentinel form, it disappeared after a few minutes and was replaced with a story headlined “Walker Blames Unions.”
Very brief answers to some of the questions I’ve been hearing most frequently regarding the recall efforts:
Why only these 8? And why not the Governor? In WI., an elected official must be in office for 1 year before a recall can be initiated. The 8 Senators (Darling, Grothman, Olsen, Lazich, Hopper, Cowles, Kapanke, & Harsdorf) have been in office for the required time period, but the Governor has not.
What happens now? The initial paperwork was filed on March 3rd, and the requisite number of signatures must now be collected and filed with the Government Accountability Board within 60 days.
Do I have to live in one of the 8 districts in order to sign a recall form? Yes. You must live in the district of the Senator you wish to recall and be an eligible voter (note: you do not have to be registered to vote yet).
How do I know if I reside in one these districts? You can find out who your representatives are here.
How else can I help? Recall efforts require a tremendous amount of work. A lot of signatures have to be collected in a short amount of time. Head over to this website to find ways to get involved. You can help out with the organization and administrative aspects even if you don’t reside in one of the districts in question.
If I missed something you have a question about, feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer or help point you in the right direction of someone who can help you out!
“Walker has positioned himself as Wisconsin’s ideologue-in-chief. Here, you sense, is a man who has not been wrong one day in his life, a true believer so sure of what’s right for him that he just knows it’s right for all the rest of us as well. He governs with a reptilian calm, unmoved by protest and unblinking in the bright light of national scrutiny. For a guy who won his job with barely 52% of the vote, Walker exhibits a chutzpah bordering on hubris, but no matter. In his monochromatic view of the world, no action is reckless if it’s right.”—John Gurda, “Smashing ‘Demon Government,’” an article that compares Walker’s view of government to that of prohibitionists. Mr. Gurda is an author and historian. If you are a history buff, this article is a must read (although I’d strongly recommend it to everyone).
“The Wisconsin Governor’s desire to be at the forefront of his perceived GOP revolution may not only have doomed the anti-union effort, but it may forever label him has the man who gave the Democrats the gift that keeps on giving: the return of the union rank and file into the arms of the Democratic Party.”—Rick Ungar, Forbes,"Scott Walker Has Lost the War"
“Before the union uprising, Wisconsin voters might not have noticed when Mr. Walker approved business tax cuts earlier this year that made his budget gap worse. But now, with his cries of being “broke,” they should listen more closely. On Tuesday, he unveiled a budget that would cut aid to school districts and local governments by nearly $1 billion over two years, while preventing those jurisdictions from raising property taxes at all to make up for the loss.”—The New York Times, The Hollow Cry of Broke; Nothing about this is consistent with giving municipalities the “tools they need” (Scotty’s latest catchphrase) to operate effectively.
Today’s must read: an outstanding photo diary documenting how Scott Walker’s administration has closed Wisconsin’s capitol to the public. The Governor’s recent behavior is an abuse of power unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Wisconsin.
While Scotty can’t be recalled until next January, 8 Republican State Senators can be recalled now. When elected officials legislate against the will and the best interest of their constituents, recalls are a way to hold them accountable. Today, the initial paperwork was filed to get this process started. Now, the required signatures must be collected in 60 days. Keep your eye on this website for important updates if you’re interested! And spread the word!
“One of the saddest things I’ve read in The New York Times recently was a comment by Richard Freeman, a Harvard economist, who said that he views the current hostility toward unions by members of the general public as a sign of the erosion of the aspirational nature that has for so long characterized Americans. “It shows a hopelessness,” he said. “It used to be, ‘You have something I don’t have; I’ll go to my employer to get it, too. Now I don’t see any chance of getting it. I don’t want to be the lowest one on the totem pole, so I don’t want you to have it either.’ ”—- Bob Herbert in “Unintended, but Sound Advice,” his 2/28/11 NYT op-ed column (via davidquigg)
Like trying to fix a small leak in the roof by burning down the house
Recommended reading: The New York Times’ article on Scott Walker’s budget gives a very broad overview for anyone trying to become familiar with the budget and with the recent political climate in Wisconsin.
And, interestingly, the Journal Sentinel’s Editorial Board addressed the budget today. It’s nothing brilliant, but it is certainly an interesting read considering the board endorsed Walker for governor and has since written many, many things in support of him.