We are in Round 3 of the great battle for Wisconsin. The people won the first round on November 2 in free and open elections. The people won the second round Friday when Governor Walker signed into law sweeping reforms of public sector collective bargaining.
It took the courage of 19 state senators who did not flee, even when cornered by an angry mob, as was Sen. Glenn Grothman. It took the courage of Assembly members, especially Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, who endured death threats.
We are today in Round 3 and our opponents, increasingly, are resorting to brute intimidation.
Threatening protestors close down a downtown bank. They wreck property in our beautiful capitol. They harass Fox News reporters because their coverage is not suitably mainstream-slanted. (They do the same to the Maciver Institute videographer, who exposed the doctors writing fake excuses -- so, of course, he is the enemy.)
A state employee who did not toe the union line found a message scrawled on his front door when he returned home Friday evening: "Pro-Walker Pig." How many more incidents are waiting to be reported?
The perpetrators are people who are accustomed to hearing themselves talk and no one else, who use the great dome of our State Capitol as an echo chamber for their own mindless drum pounding. They tell each other they are victims and after awhile they begin to believe it. Their sense of entitlement is unrestrained by economic reality. There's plenty of money out there. Michael Moore says so.
Their heroes violate our State Constitution in order to paralyze our democratic institutions.
Now their deep thinkers are positing rationales for physical violence.
"At some point these acts of brazen viciousness are going to lead to a renewed philosophical interest in the question of when acts of political violence are morally justified," says Penn State professor Brian Leiter.
How quickly the lefty mind turns toward violence! blogger Ann Althouse marvels. "Here, I'll help you get your fancy-schmancy, high-tone philosophy seminar started: Acts of political violence are justified to get what you want," she writes.
I am here to tell the Left that we will not back down. Each of us, as citizens, need to show the resolve and the courage shown by Senators Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper who held their ground knowing that they would have to fend off a recall.
Put me down as a Pro-Walker pig. Who will join me?
If it's legal, why were they hiding?
The Fugitive 14, of course.
Marquette law prof Rick Esenberg demolishes the Lester Pines/John Nichols argument that legislators cannot be compelled to attend legislative sessions. Their argument, briefly, rests on Article IV Section 15, which prohibits "arrest." But Article IV, Section 7 clearly states that legislators may be compelled to attend. That is not an arrest, as it is always understood, in other words: a detainment preparatory to a criminal charge. In fact, that prohibition against arrest was designed to reinforce the ability (and duty) of the legislator to attend. Writes Esenberg:
Art. IV, sec. 15 is designed to protect legislators in the performance of their legislative duties and prevent the executive, for example, from prohibiting the attendance of legislators through arrest or civil process. They are not intended to hamstring the legislature from the enforcement of its rules and taking those steps necessary to enable it to function.
He concludes: "The Democrats on the run know this. It is why they are hiding. ... If they really thought they were immune from apprehension, there would have been no need to go to the mattresses."
Have 'times changed' at Madison schools?
I present Blaska's Red Badge of Courage award to the Madison Area Technical College Board. Its part-time teachers union would rather sue than settle until Gov. Scott Walker acted. Then it withdrew the lawsuit and asked the board for terms. No dice. "Times have changed," said MATC's attorney.
The Madison school board showed a rudimentary backbone when it settled a contract, rather hastily, with a newly nervous Madison teachers union.
The school board got $23 million of concessions over the next two years. Wages are frozen at current levels. Of course, the automatic pay track system remains, which rewards longevity.
Teachers will pay half their pensions and 5% of their GHC health care cooperative and 15% of the more costly WPS system. WPS goes away entirely in year two, when the school board can exact 10% of health insurance costs.
Teachers will be docked pay for the four days they walked off the job to protest at the Capitol. No amnesty. Fraudulent health excuses will result in suspension. I don't know how long.
This is all good stuff. Maybe the best we could expect out of a Madison school board as presently constituted.
Deal keeps the union in business
Here is the bad news: the district will continue to deduct dues from teachers pay check and send them to big bad John Matthews. By settling before the Secretary of State publishes the new state collective bargaining law, Madison Teachers Inc. has a new lease on life. You can be that does money will go for recall votes in Fond du Lac and La Crosse. Also, no yearly certification votes.
Still, Superintendent Dan Nerad acknowledged that it never could have gotten the givebacks without Gov. Walker's bill. The school district's settlement puts to shame the city government giveaway that Mayor Cieslewicz engineered. The city will raise pay and require no increases in pension or health insurance payments.
Then again, the school district will need them. MMSD is facing a $16 million hit in state aids - annually - because the State of Wisconsin is broke. Nerad told me he could not say whether the district's tax rate would go up. It still has $4 million worth of wiggle room under terms of the 2008 referendum.
Why negotiate at all? After all, the budget repair law, when it takes effect, will require only negotiations on salary and then at the cost of living. Supt. Nerad presented his rationale as a healing move. "It's been a difficult time for our staff."
It's been a difficult time for taxpayers, too, Dan.
One more goodie: no longer will district taxpayers pay for the privilege of their teachers attending the state teachers union convention!
'It is not because we care about children'
At least, he admits it. Then-NEA chief legal counsel Bob Chanin gets a standing O from his unionists for this sickening creed spoken in July 6, 2009.