As you probably know by now, the status of the publication/legality of the new collective bargaining law, aka Wisconsin Act 10, remains, like so many things since February 11th, in limbo. Now it’s true that I’m no scholar of constitutional law, much less the enforceable actualities inherent in that august screed called the website of the Legislative Reference Bureau, but here’s what’s at play, in a nutshell: More or less on behalf of Minority Leader of the State Assembly, Peter Barca, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is suing Majority Leader of the State Assembly Jeff Fitzgerald et al. over violating the open meetings law. Related to this is Secretary of State, Doug La Follette, who is responsible for setting the date for all Wisconsin laws to be published in the state newspaper, The Wisconsin State Journal, who delayed this last step until March 25, 2011. Before that, however, Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order blocking the bill from being published until further testimony regarding the open meetings law could be heard. So far, so good? OK, here’s where the Shakespearean elements come in from the wings: citing immunity while the State Legislature is in session, none of the Republicans need appear at court. La Follette, being a state employee, was represented by the Department of Justice, as is standard operating procedure — in this case Maria Lazar, assistant Attorney General who (along with Steven Means) you might remember from such legalese classics as “Why Our Capitol Needs to Be Closed Off to the Public” and “What Do You Mean the DOA Favors Fox News?” only a few weeks ago. But hang on for just a second, you’re probably thinking, didn’t the DOJ, most notably Attorney General JB Van Hollen himself, say that Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi lacked the authority to weigh in on this legislative matter? (More on this elsewhere.) So how can the Sec. of State, who disagrees with the misbegotten bastard bill-law and is on record as not allowing it to be published while there remains in effect a temporary restraining order, be represented in court by the DOJ who (a) believes the matter is established law by fiat of having been published on the LRB’s website and (b) doesn’t really think the Judge has the jurisdiction to opine on this in the first place? Great questions all around! Hence the emphasized “was represented” (above) because after much frustration and apparent conflict of interest, Judge Sumi ordered that he be represented by his own attorney, not the DOJ. Read the rest of this entry »
Monthly Archives: March 2011
Do You Recall…?
It’s worth recollecting that Scott Walker became the County Executive of Milwaukee County eight years ago thanks to a recall election after then incumbent, Tom Ament, retired after a scandal over county pension funds. Before that, Walker was still in the State Assembly. Interestingly (re: incestuously), he won that seat after yet another “special election” — in this case to none other than the son of Tom Lament. Walker deliberately moved to Wauwatosa to establish residence after an Assembly seat opened up there in 1993. At the time, Scott was only 25 years old, selling warranties for IBM. (He’d already dropped out of Marquette University). He would go on to pitch his hat in the gubernatorial ring in 2006, but decided to back down (lack of cash; he was not then bankrolled by the Koch brothers) and deferred to Mark Green who then ran as the Republican candidate (unsuccessfully). That was only four years after becoming county exec. of Milwaukee. Now he’s governor, and he obviously has his eyes cast on national prizes. (Remember the prank call wherein he happily confides his belief in this being his Reagan moment? See excerpt below.) The point I’m trying to establish is that not unlike being a true Teabagger who ran as a brown bagger Republican, Walker is a career politician blatantly masquerading as an average citizen who just happened to heed the call of duty. Read the rest of this entry »
As you may know, today marks the 100th anniversary of the greatest (known) workplace tragedy in the history of the country, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Here’s some basic info together with harrowing photos from the event:
What’s important to remember, and all too sadly a propos, this tragedy galvanized the Labor movement in America and brought attention to workers’ rights (not the nefarious “right to work”). As Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” If the chant “An injury to one is an injury to all” be true, then so too can it be said that what happened then is what’s happening now; we’re just actors reenacting this same old play on stage. Let’s try to ensure that it’s not a tragedy!
Said Senator Chuck Schumer-D of New York, “And to the families of the victims, we will not let right-wing ideologues and Scott Walker Republicans undo your loved ones’ legacy.” So now Scott Walker has become part of the national lexicon, albeit dubiously. And now we know how long it takes to go from a statewide shame to a national embarrassment: a New York minute.
Charter Schools in Wisconsin
For the back story on state Senator Alberta Darling’s new bill to allocate money from public schools to charters, please start here.
So now we want to…
1) lower the bar for teachers’ credentials and aptitude;
2) stick the cost of private schools onto the public taxpayer; and
3) entrust a board* of know-nothing know-it-alls in Madison to dictate how a local school district a couple hundred miles away decides how to run things.
3a) * The members of which are appointed by the governor, a college dropout, and the do-or-dynamic duo Fitzgerald Brothers, the majority leaders both in each of the two houses of the State Legislature (neither of whom have any professional background in education beyond their bachelors’ degrees from UW-Oshkosh. In other words, none of these dingbats, as my father would say, have any qualification whatsoever in choosing a board of pedagogues.
Of the over 50,000 emails Walker received in the week following the release of his “fudge it despair bull” a random sample of 1,910 were culled and analyzed by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. As you probably know by now, the emails were finally released to the public a couple days ago, as decided by a Dane County Circuit Court after an open records lawsuit (another one!) was filed by both Madison’s free weekly newspaper Isthmus and the Wisconsin Associated Press. (Walker folded before this and settled to release the emails and to pay $7000 in the plaintiffs’ legal fees in exchange for being innocent of having done anything wrong – kind of like the Medieval Church’s practice of selling indulgences, whereby you paid the church a handsome sum that like a ledger of fungible sin erased you or a deceased relative’s wrongs in life, thus freeing them to go to heaven (but that’s another story altogether; but who can forget that Dark Ages ditty, “A coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs”?!).
Such a classic showdown of iconoclastic contrasts could not have been better staged by Capra himself. On the right the attorneys for the Department of Administration, i.e., the State of Wisconsin, i.e., Scott Walker, led by Assistant Attorney General Steven Means glossy slick in pinstripes flanked on both sides by his lady attorney girl Fridays sutured in skirt suits, all corporate polish, hairspray-metallic. On the left, former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager in a denim jacket and coffee-stained slacks, her legal assistant next to her in a corduroy jacket, disheveled hair, his shirt unkemptly tucked as he leaned back in his chair like a recliner, hands folded behind his head. The issue at stake: an injunction filed on behalf of the people of Wisconsin against the Department of Administration to rescind forthwith the latter’s continually changing, incrementally draconian policies restricting access to the state Capitol building.