You are going to read a lot today about the vote that took place in Wisconsin, where the GOP split out the “non-fiscal” part of the bill and shoved it through with less than two hours notice, violating both rules and laws. Video of the vote and the moments leading up to it, are available online from a citizen journalist in the following youtube clip. I highly recommend watching it so you can get a context for how this vote took place.
[starting ~45s, transcript errors my own]
Representative Barca: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman I have a question about the open meeting rule being violated…Most importantly, before we even get started, obviously I’m going to want to have a summary of this bill from our director Lane, so I understand what’s in here.
Chairman: It’s the same bill you debated for 60 hours.
Barca: So there’s nothing different?
Chairman: No. We just removed items from it.
Barca: Removed what?
Chairman: Removed items. There’s nothing new.
Barca: So can we get a description of what was removed?
Chairman: Nothing new.
Barca: Well, you said things were removed Mr. Chairman. I want to know what’s removed. It seems to me that the body should have and our community should know what we are voting on. So what was removed? I need to know that. So I do want a description from Director Lane….But before we even get into that I want this is a violation of the open meeting law. It is required, I have here a memo from the current Attorney General, not a past one the current one. August 2010. No Wisconsin Court decision will allow meetings unless you have good cause to provide less than 24 hours notice of a meeting. The provision, like all other provisions of the open meetings law must be construed in favor of providing the public with the fullest and most complete information about government affairs…
Chairman: Representative Barca.
Barca: that’s compatible with government business…
Chairman: Representative Barca. Clerk, call roll.
Barca: NO EXCUSE ME It says if there’s any doubt as to whether or not good cause exists the governmental body should provide 24 hours notice. This is clearly a violation of the open meetings law. You have been shutting people down…
Democratic Representative Peter Barca of Kenosha was there and pointed out that the rules and law were being violated. He also mentioned that he wasn’t sure what was even in the bill. The Chairman said it was the same bill everyone had been discussing, just with some things removed and nothing added. Barca pointed out that he wasn’t sure what was removed. Through some sort of logic fallacy, the Chairman said that didn’t matter since they had debated the whole of it; the unknown A’ consists of elements of A, and as such the debate of A was enough to justify a vote on A’.
Again, I recommend you watch the video just so you can see what a shameful act of democratic contempt was played on the voters of Wisconsin. The Chairman calls roll around 2m35s in, and you can see the “aye” votes go while Barca is reading the list of rules and laws they are violating by voting. The rest of them just walk out.
So what now? David Dayen has a list of the next steps. This move will certainly go to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Dayen:
• Supreme Court fight. The matchup between David Prosser (R) and JoAnn Kloppenberg (D) for the state Supreme Court on April 5 just got very interesting. It’s a statewide vote, and the balance of power on the state Supreme Court is at stake. Right now there are 4 Republicans and 3 Democrats on the court, but one of those Republicans is Prosser. Expect lots of organizing and millions of dollars poured into this election, which is much like a political election, with debates and everything. If Democrats win, the legality of what took place tonight may be put in greater question.
Here is the webpage of JoAnn Kloppenberg. You can’t donate money to the Kloppenberg campaign since she is taking public financing. (Removing public financing for state Supreme Court elections is part of Walker’s larger bill.) But you can phone bank. I am going to spend today learning more about this election so I can be an online phone bank volunteer who is effective in convincing my fellow Upper-Midwesterners why this election is so important.
Also next up, recalls. Dayen:
• Recalls. This will only energize progressives and labor to get the required signatures for recalls. All 8 Republicans eligible for recall voted to strip public employee unions of their rights, despite clear public opposition. Many of these Republicans, frankly, are going to recall as early as this summer, and if just three of them lose, the balance of power will switch to Democrats in the state Senate. There are also races for three open seats in the state Assembly coming up in May, so even more movement could occur.
Here’s an Actblue page for donations to Recall the WI Republican 8. If you are in Wisconsin and able to do ground work for the recall effort, here’s an SEIU page coordinating efforts. This is a very effective use of time/money; politicians follow and react to this kind of pressure.
So there are opportunities to donate, either time and/or money, depending on what you can do, in order to fight this.