Day Three of The Madison “Uprising” at The Capitol
Last night, after two days of demonstrations, Mary Bell of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), consisting of 98,000 teaching professionals strong, stepped up to declare war on Governor Scott “Boy Blunder” Walker, and his meme that the state was broke (and from other economists, it isn’t). The woman was on fire with what this all truly means.
The Legislature is currently in recess; if you want to view the proceedings, click here for the live deliberations brought by WisconsinEye.
Today, fourteen Democratic state senators beat a retreat from the state to prevent the bill from coming to a vote, a la Texas, 2003. There are nineteen Republicans in the Senate and they need 20 people to obtain a quorum. It’s not going to happen for a while. The Wisconsin Sentinel-Journal says:
Law enforcement officers are searching for Democratic senators boycotting a Senate vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair plan Thursday in an attempt to bring the lawmakers to the floor to allow Republicans to act on the bill.
As Republicans denounced the move, one Democratic senator said that he believed most of the members of his caucus are in another state.
In a telephone interview, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) declined to give his location but acknowledged that at least one other Democrat was with him. He said that law enforcement would be able to compel him and his members to the Senate floor if they are located in Wisconsin.
“I can tell you this – we’re not all in one place,” Miller said. “This is a watershed moment unlike any that we have experienced in our political lifetimes. The people have shown that the government has gone too far . . . We are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure that this bill gets the consideration it needs.”
The bill would help balance the state budget by cutting benefits for public workers and stripping them of almost all their union bargaining rights. The political drama is taking place amid a massive demonstration of union members that is clogging the hallways of the Capitol and making the rotunda ring with chanted slogans as loud as the revving of a motorcycle engine.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said that Democrats were “not showing up for work” and that police were searching for them to bring them to the floor.
“That’s not democracy. That’s not what this chamber is about,” Fitzgerald said of the boycott to reporters.
Check yourself, Fitzgerald, when your dad Steven was just hired by Governor Walker to sweeten the deal you and your brother made for getting on his wagon for this massive shove of Wisconsin workers under the bus. At least what they are doing is clean compared to what you’ve been up to.
I saw a rumor on Twitter from a reporter that the dissenting senators are holed up in a hotel in Rockford, IL. If that is true, and if I were them, I would beat it for points elsewhere, but not in Wisconsin. Another rumor has it that some state troopers may decide not to obey orders and hunt for and drag the senators back to vote.
Meanwhile, it appears that Ed Schultz couldn’t stand being on the sidelines. He is broadcasting today from Mad City. It’s too late, but he did do his show from The Mic, WXXM-FM, today from noon until 3. He’ll do his show live from Madison, WI tonight for MSNBC’s The Ed Show. Schultz is really upset that few in the mainstream media have thought to cover this story, nationally. And he sees a pattern.
Last night, Ed laid out what he thinks the strategy is for anti-union Republican governors and their supporters. From Crooks and Liars, this is part and parcel of Murdoch and Faux’s plans as well.Vodpod videos no longer available.
1. Buy a few governors in key states.
2. Launch stealth legislative assaults on public union workers, stripping them of their rights to bargain and/or strike.
3. Use right-wing media (Fox News) to fearmonger about union violence.
4. As memberships dwindle, so too do funds for political activity by unions.
Rachel Maddow on her show, did a brilliant assessment as well.Vodpod videos no longer available.
And if you’ve held your nose and watched Faux Noise in the past few days, they are blowing extra hard over the big doings in Madison. Even fantasist Beck has made connections between the Egyptian mass demonstrations and the relatively peaceful uprising here in town. I wish we did have a million people here in this square. The Madison Metro system has rerouted the buses to the outer ring of the square, which is one block over. Cops, both the Capitol Police and Madison’s finest, have blocked off traffic and have helped to keep things relatively mellow. The only big thing that has happened are the large crowds, which yesterday swelled to 25,000, and may have topped that number today. One overly active protester was busted by cops for trying to ram into the closed Assembly chambers.
Right now, Wisconsin students, whether from the university or from secondary schools (which, like elementary and middle schools, have been closed for the second day as teachers are demonstrating) are marching around the Capitol again (3:38 p.m.)
And inside The Capitol?
Public workers jammed the Statehouse today as the Ohio Senate continued to hear testimony on a bill that would eliminate collective bargaining rights for state employees and change the rights of local government employees.
The workers, many wearing bright red T-shirts, filled the Statehouse atrium and rotunda while others milled about outside. They voiced their opposition loudly, sometimes echoing into the Senate hearing room and competing with the speakers testifying in support of Senate Bill 5. The State Highway Patrol estimated the crowd at 1,800.
Extra security was out in force.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Sen. Shannon Jones of Springboro. Jones testified last week that changes to the 27-year-old collective bargaining law are necessary to help local governments deliver services to taxpayers while dealing with declining revenues.
Labor leaders and workers, however, see the legislation as an assault on unions. They say that Republicans who control the House, Senate and governor’s office are pushing a national GOP effort to de-fund unions that have historically backed Democrats.
I’ve got a feeling that it is going to be one of those long hot springs and summers.
Anyway, gotta go to work tonight…