As Budget Battle Looms, Import of Recalls and Collective Bargaining Rights Remain Paramount

As this is being written Walkerville is in full swing; Russ Feingold has marched with firefighters, police, nurses, and workers to the Capitol; the State Supreme Court is hearing arguments as to whether they should take action in Judge Sumi’s Open Meetings Law ruling voiding Act 10, and the Legislature begins work on the full budget this week. Overwhelmed? Protests and presence at the Capitol must increase this week, as a message to Republican Legislators that Progressives are more engaged than ever. Being engaged also means remaining focused on key issues – those of pending recalls and preserving collective bargaining rights. While protesting at the Capitol will require our physical presence en masse, the recalls and collective bargaining issue will require mental and “spiritual” engagement as well. Here is food for your political soul.

Recall Governor Walker – With the Wisconsin Democratic Party announcement last week that it will engage in the recall of Governor Walker, the movement has great momentum and resources joining forces with United Wisconsin. The ability to coordinate county-to-county canvassing, provide a unified direction, and financial resources all point to a much higher likelihood for success. What remains is for all interested parties to commit to working together toward this ambitious goal. As written in a previous blog (May 22), the effort requires complete unity and setting aside of individual agendas and egos. Badger Democracy issues a call and challenge for every person and group committed to the recall of Governor Walker to come together in a “strategy summit” after the Senatorial recalls are complete. This summit should arrive at a unified agreement as to the timetable and strategy for implementing this effort. ALL of us have a vested interest in the accomplishment at this goal – it can only happen through all of us working in unison – late summer summit to recall Walker!  

Senatorial Recalls – This is a historic time. Never before in US history have so many recalls taken place in such a short and tumultuous time. The Government Accountability Board has been literally overwhelmed with certifying petitions, to the point of being allowed an extension by a Dane County Judge to complete the process. While Republican committees to recall Democrat Senators have alleged political favoritism, the GAB link above shows in detail the severity of challenges to the petitions for Democrat Senators Holperin, Wirch, and Hansen. A meeting of the Government Accountability Board on June 8 will finalize the status of the Democratic recalls – which would be held on July 19 if validated by the GAB. The scheduled special recall election to be held on July 12 (or this date would act as a primary election if needed) are for the following Senatorial Districts:

18th Senatorial District – Jessica King (D)  will challenge Randy Hopper (R) in the Fox Valley area

32nd Senatorial District – Jennifer Shilling (D) will challenge Dan Kapanke (R) in the LaCrosse area

14th Senatorial District – Fred Clark (D) will challenge Luther Olsen (R) in the Baraboo area

10th Senatorial District – Shelly Moore (D) will challenge Sheila Harsdorf (R) in the River Falls area

8th Senatorial District – Sandy Pasch (D) will challenge Alberta Darling (R) in Milwaukee’s North Shore area 

2nd Senatorial District – Nancy Nusbaum (D) will challenge Robert Cowles (R) in the Green Bay area

 All recall elections above have a real possibility of changing the face of the Senate. With only three seats determining the balance of power in the Senate, there is a good probability of them changing the face of the Senate (pending GAB action on the pending Democrat recalls – and their potential outcome). The reality of this has caused a great amount of anxiety in the GOP. So much so, that Republicans are now plotting to run “false Democrats” just to force a primary – delaying the final election, giving them time to fill their coffers and further their legislative agenda. This activity has been confirmed by the LaCrosse Tribune (Kapanke), Milwaukee Journal Sentinel , and the State Republican Chair himself. This opportunity cannot be squandered. These quality, highly qualified candidates deserve all our support financially and as volunteers to assure their election to the Senate – especially in the light of continued unethical actions by the GOP. It is important as well to inform voters that the newly passed “Voter ID” law will not prevent people from voting in the recall elections. Voters will be ASKED to show photo ID, but MAY vote without it – they will be informed that it will be required in the fall 2012 election. This has been confirmed by an Erpenbach Staff Member.  We cannot allow people to be dissuaded to vote, and have time to educate and mobilize voters to obtain proper ID for the 2012 elections.

Collective Bargaining – The State Supreme Court is now hearing arguments in regard to the Open Meetings Law ruling of Judge Sumi. While most legal scholars agree that her ruling was not only appropriate but sound, it is difficult to tell which way the court is leaning while listening to arguments. The questioning is very obviously along political and ideological lines. That being said, the action of the Supreme court is anyone’s guess – especially based on current politics. Collective Bargaining is the lynchpin of the Walker agenda. His privatization and consolidation agenda cannot succeed while strong Public Unions remain in place. His assault on the working families of Wisconsin will have less momentum with strong Public Unions in place. As this is written, civil disobedience is beginning. Protestors entered the Capitol through restricted doors, chanted in the rotunda, blocked traffic on the square, were arrested for exercising their freedom of speech peacefully, and have begun putting the pressure back on Legislators who have to choose between the Governor’s Budget, and the People of Wisconsin. It is our responsibility to make our voices and expectations heard of these lawmakers to do the right thing. Should Act 10 become law through the Supreme Court, Unions should mobilize for a General Strike and march (peaceful) on the Capitol. Should Collective Bargaining be inserted into the budget on the floor, in the middle  of the night, a General Strike should be called. Even non-union employees should strike based on the draconian effects of this budget all the people of Wisconsin.

This will be a hot summer in Wisconsin. Focus on the recall elections, win back the Senate. Develop a sound strategy for recalling Governor Walker. Turn up the heat on Legislators pondering the budget – let them know we are as engaged as ever in a civil but passionate discourse about the direction of Wisconsin. Be prepared to act in a General Strike should Collective Bargaining rights be struck down. We must remain vigilant, civil, active, and achieve the high ground to take back Wisconsin. Stand together for the Wisconsin Idea of Government and those who can’t buy their influence in Scott Walker’s Government.