Scott Walker’s Shallow Plan to Abuse “Special Session” Rules

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced earlier this week that he is convening a special session of the state legislature. The session has been described by certain government officials and by major media outlets as a “Jobs Session”, but does Walker’s published agenda deserve that description? Many officials and organizations say no. They say Walker and the Republican legislature are abusing the relaxed rules of the special session to reward campaign contributors and ram through previously failed legislation that is offensive and destructive to the citizens of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters saw through the charade immediately. They issued a statement on Thursday, September 29th where they slammed proposed changes to environmental regulations that would allow hasty approval for construction of an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin:

“Buried within the package of small bills to be considered in the Special Session called today are two proposals initiating major rollbacks to Wisconsin’s natural resource protections. These are not jobs proposals. Governor Scott Walker is clearly using several low-impact bills to provide cover for the two proposals that will decimate natural resources, reward campaign donors, and be wildly unpopular with Wisconsin voters.”

State Representative Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) has requested that Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald schedule a public hearing to be held in Bewley’s district to get public feedback on the proposed mining law changes. My advice? No need to book a room in Ashland to attend or cover the public hearing. Not gonna happen.

Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), the Assembly minority leader, published an editorial in today’s Capital Times chastising the governor for the blatant attempt to pass unpopular and destructive legislation in the so-called “Back to Work Wisconsin” session. Continue reading

“That’s illegal, you know!” – Scott Fitzgerald: “Yes sir!”

This is a guest post by Bruce N. I’ve seen Bruce protesting in snow, sleet, rain, and sweltering sun at the Capitol building. If you want to learn about how to do a marathon protest, Bruce is your go-to man. He had an unusual conversation with the Wisconsin Senate’s Scott Fitzgerald today.

One hour and 45 minutes ago I was jauntily completing my daily citizen’s duty – 198 straight days sign-protesting at Capitol Square. I’m an unpaid, non-union, average guy who, like many Wisconsinites, has been slapped in the face by an internal coup d’tat of Wisconsin representative government in February. I like to call it “Walker’s St. Valentine’s Revolution.”
In response, I try to make a small contribution, a fresh and topical sign every day, that keeps the issues on the minds of those who haunt the capitol. A presence, a stand-in for all those who can’t make it every day.
Today’s sign-bite Reeled In A Big Fish. It read:
J. Fitzgerald’s lobbying org’s (ALEC) membership paid by WI taxpayers.

(ALEC, of course, refers to the ubiquitous but largely unknown American Legislative Exchange Council. Go to ALECEXPOSED.ORG)
So, back to the story. Who should I run into today but our jovial, red-faced WI Senate Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, Jeff’s brother, and two of his cohorts.

I held up my sign directly in front of them and they dutifully read it. Following which, I politely (not always my M.O.) said to them, “That’s illegal, you know!”

Senator Fitzgerald answered without pause, “Yes, Sir!” He smiled broadly, as did I before turning my back and leaving.

What the senator meant by his retort is anyone’s guess. Could it be that he agreed with the sign’s implication of illegal use of funds and was showing the extreme hubris so common these days among the GOP? Or, was it a clumsy, off-the-cuff bit of Irish humor. I’m not writing with the purpose of intuiting personal intent. I’m reporting what I saw and heard verbatim and you be the judge.

The story beneath this chance meeting is instructive. The putative Republican candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat, Jeff Fitzgerald, used Wisconsin taxpayer money to become a member of ALEC. That may be illegal. The Assembly leader also accepted a suspect donation of $1,329 from ALEC.

The main revelation about ALEC is that it secretly gathers together 2,000 state legislators, including our own, along with 300 corporate representatives to draft and vote on so-called “model legislation” that is then trotted back to state capitols, including Madison, for use in GOP legislative agendas. ATTENTION: our supposed representative government is being run from outside the state, especially by CORPORATIONS.

Among ALEC’s members are 33 WI Assembly representatives and 15 WI Senators – all Republican. If you check Wisconsin legislation you’ll find a remarkable similarity to ALEC models. How else, barring pre-knowledge of Scott Walker’s election, could the revolutionary putsch of our government have put together a voluminous set of prepackaged bills in such a short period of time. The only answer is that between the November, 2010 election and the January 3, 2011 inauguration they already had them in their back pocket.
ALEC claims they are not a lobbying organization. But, if writing bills for states and allowing corporations to vote on “model legislation” along with wining and dining WI legislators is not lobbying what is? ALEC has made old-fashioned lobbying in smoke-filled rooms look like stone tools.

It is important to know that Wisconsin makes it illegal for their legislators to use taxpayer money for membership in lobbying organizations.
I suppose a demand to make ALEC identify itself as a registered lobbying group would require a court case. I am not a lawyer and do not have the money to mount such an endeavor, but until somebody does what can we do? We can shout to the rooftops that the Republicans are set to run a man for the U.S. Senate who, if he has not blatantly broken the law, has committed ethical malfeasance and severely jeopardized representative democracy in Wisconsin.

Keep your spirit. Settle in for a long fight. Politics and citizen protection of Democracy is an endurance activity.

And now for a brief flashback, this is a video I did of Bruce at day number 94 of his protest. The video cuts to the part where he explains why he’s friendly with everybody, even the Republican legislators:

When Disinformation Attacks: Wisconsin Act 10 AKA the “Budget Repair Bill”


Is Wisconsin Act 10 A.K.A. “the budget repair bill” the law of the land?

Depends on who you ask. I did do a survey of those answers, but first keep in mind that since Friday March 25, 2011 dezinformatsiya or disinformation is turning reality into a collective hunch* here.

Disinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately with intentions of turning genuine information useless.

When Scott Fitzgerald had the LRB print the bill and pronounce all work done, he propagated disinformation.

What a wonderful lever with which to launch a campaign of false-truth. And from there, implement it in clear violation of a court order.

Will this deflate people? Confuse them? Will people just throw in the towel?

They could. The judicial wheels can keep on grinding ahead and at the same time the Fitzwalkerstani powers control paychecks, positions, and jobs. If the Wisconsin Supreme Court may be stopped from touching the bill, and it stays in blue Dane County  the judge may be dismissed as “activist” and slandered in all ways known. The law could be locked in a progressive ghetto.

That’s what I see from my speculative soap box. But it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Time to see what real people are saying in response to “Is Wisconsin Act 10 A.K.A. “the budget repair bill” the law of the land?”

Kathleen Falk, County Executive in Dane County: HELL NO

“A bill doesn’t become law just because five Republicans say so….

The Republican Attorney General, Republican legislative leaders and Governor Walker seem to view Continue reading

Intuition correct: anti-union bill rushed through because hold on Republican Senator votes is tenuous

Karoli at Crooks & Liars gets the golden stomach award for watching FOX news and not only not upchucking, but turning out a story. Scott Fitzgerald got some grilling from Greta Greta Van Susteren and finally toward the end of this 4 minute video he admits that he’s not trying to revote the collective bargaining bill rushed on March 9th because:

“Greta you know that the legislature is always very tentative. You may have the votes on one day and you don’t on the next. I mean there’s so many factors that are out there in trying to bring this together. Judge Sumi says that the Capitol was not open during this entire process. We know the protesters would come back immediately if we said or announced that we were going to run this bill through again. …”

I surmised as much myself. Republicans can’t risk going back in for a legal vote in committee and Senate because faith in Republican Senators voting for the Governor’s ridiculous legislation waivers.

I think they are also getting wise to how media coverage and spirits rise with a full occupation of the Capitol. They don’t want to risk that again, either.

A Wisconsin Solidarity Grab Bag. March 15, 2011.

While it’s great that my pants fit looser from all that exercise I did rallying, my kitchen is a health hazard. You may see more “grab bag”‘s  “this n that”‘s and other people’s videos this week.

Tensions Ease Between Dems and GOP

Senator Cullen Extends an “Olive Branch”, Puzzling some Dem 14 Fans

“Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, a key member of the Democratic senators who fled the state in a failed effort to stall Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, said Tuesday he was drafting a state constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to vote on and pass fiscal bills with a simple majority.”

Here’s one of the funnier tweeted criticisms: “Need new party called “The Badass Progressives Takin No Crap From You” and Cullen not invited” @juliecmitchell

And this was the most popular criticism of Cullen tweeted: “150,000 people cheer Dem Sen Tim Cullen‘s return and 3 days later he pisses in their faces” –@mgarth Continue reading

Part 2. 100,000 Welcome the Dem14 Home: The Press Conference

I could say without exaggeration that I was riveted to the appearance and the words of the Dem14 at Saturday’s press conference.

Dave Hansen of Green Bay conveyed the most emotion of all of the Senators who spoke to us.

Sen. Dave Hansen

Here is a 2.5 minute selection. This is a recording I don’t get tired of.

I realize I am incredibly biased. In my eyes, what the Dem14 did was necessary and heroic.  The press in this room didn’t share my admiration Continue reading

Insulting Letter to Dem. Senator Mark Miller from Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Not-Afraid-To-Be-A-Royal-Prick Fitzgerald: Republican Majority Leader, Wisconsin State Senate

March 7, 2011

Sen. Mark Miller

Parts Unknown, IL

Dear Senator Miller,

Thank you for your hand-delivered letter with an offer to meet, in Illinois, about the business and future direction of Wisconsin.   Let’s set aside how bizarre that is for a moment.

As you know Continue reading