A day of infamy: Tea-Publicans declare war on government and the American middle class

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Tea-Publicans have declared war on government and the American middle class in their quest to end democracy and to impose a corporatocracy. They should no longer be treated with the legitimacy of a political party or movement. They are in insurrection against both state governments and the federal government and, more importantly, against their fellow American citizens in service to multi-national corporations. This is an act of treason, and they are traitors. This is civil war, and the survival of our democratic Republic is at stake.

Wisconsin

I am not intimately familiar with the rules of the Wisconsin senate, but I can tell you that procedurally  a conference committee to resolve differences between bills passed in both chambers of the legislature is generally not formed until after a bill has actually been approved by both chambers.

Yesterday, the Tea-Publicans in Wisconsin formed a conference committee for Gov. Walker's so-called "budget repair bill" to strip out the provisions ending collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Keep in mind there was never an underlying bill actually approved by the senate for the conference committee to resolve any differences.This move exposed the lie that the the collective bargaining provisions were a "fiscal matter" as Gov. Walker has asserted from the start.

The Tea-Publicans convened the conference committee without adequate public notice or the standard period of time allowed for the reading of the conference bill, in violation of Wisconsin's open meetings law. One Democratic senator objected to this violation of Wisconsin law and sought to be heard by the Senate majority leader, but was ignored. Just as the Assembly Speaker rammed through a vote two weeks ago in disregard for procedural rules, Update: Tea-Publican Tyranny in Wisconsin, the Senate majority leader called for a vote, and it passed 4-2. [UPDATE: Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald are brothers. That is seriously messed up.] This was the act of a "rump" committee, probably without lawful authority to act.

Here is a video report of the conference committee vote from MacIver News Service:

Within minutes after this "rump" committee approved the measures ending collective bargaining rights for public employee unions, the Tea-Publicans convened the senate to approve the bill, again without adequate public notice or the standard period of time allowed for the reading of the bill, in violation of Wisconsin's open meetings law. The Senate majority leader called for a vote and the bill passed 18-1, with one moderate Republican still with a conscience voting no.

The Madison Capitol Times reports Budget bill foes say stealthy vote broke open meetings law; challenges coming

Shortly after Senate Republicans' surprise vote Wednesday to eliminate most collective bargaining rights for most public employees, protesters started collecting signatures from citizens in preparation for filing an open meetings complaint.

It is not yet clear where these complaints will be filed, but former Attorney General Pat Lautenschlager said they can be filed with either the Dane County District Attorney's Office or the Attorney General's Office. But, she added: "Frankly I don't know how either of those men would need a complaint to file an action in this. It's clear that the conference committee's meeting on its face violated Wisconsin's open meetings law."

* * *

Attorney Bob Dreps, an expert in open meetings and open records law, said the state's open meetings law requires 24 hours notice before any government meeting can be held. It allows for shorter notice for "good cause" only when it would be "impossible" or "impractical" to wait 24 hours. But even in those situations there must be a two-hour notice for an emergency meeting, he said.

Dreps said from what he could see, the Senate Republicans "didn't give valid notice."

* * *

[Former Attorney General] Pat Lautenschlager, who is legal counsel for AFSCME Council 24, said that if a meeting is found to be in violation of the open meetings law, the members who participated in the meeting could be fined between $25 and $300. And any action taken at a meeting found to be in violation of the open meetings law "is voidable upon action brought by the attorney general or district attorney," Lautenschlager added.

But some Democratic staffers suggested that it is rare for the judicial branch to void an action by the Legislature because they are a co-equal branch of government.

This authoritarian disregard for the legislative rules and Wisconsin law in order to impose the will of Gov. Walker through legislative fiat caused a firestorm of protest at the capitol. The Wisconson State Journal reports Thousands storm Capitol as GOP takes action:

Thousands of protesters rushed to the state Capitol Wednesday night, forcing their way through doors, crawling through windows and jamming corridors, as word spread of hastily called votes on Gov. Scott Walker's controversial bill limiting collective bargaining rights for public workers.

* * *

"Senate Republicans have exercised the nuclear option to ram through their bill attacking Wisconsin's working families in the dark of night," added Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. "Tonight's events have demonstrated they will do or say anything to pass their extreme agenda that attacks Wisconsin's working families."

Shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the locked King Street entrance to the Capitol, chanting "Break down the door!" and "General strike!"

Moments later, police ceded control of the State Street doors and allowed the crowd to surge inside, joining thousands who had already gathered in the Capitol to protest the votes.

* * *

Representatives of the union that represents blue-collar, technical and safety officers at UW-Madison said the possibility of a general strike has been discussed. "Anything is possible," said Local 171 steward Carl Aniel.

Aniel said only locals can call a strike, and it would be up to each one to do so individually.

Mass protests around the capitol in Madison are scheduled for Thursday morning as the state Assemby takes up the unlawful legislative fiat of the state senate and completes the fait accompli. Protests planned across state at 9 a.m., union says (Madison Capitol Times).

Michigan

In Michigan, Tea-Publicans in the senate approved the corporatocray's coup d'etat by passing the "emergency financial manager" bill that I told you about yesterday. The corporatocracy's coup d’etat in Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press reports Emergency financial manager bill clears state Senate:

On Wednesday, despite protests from labor unions and Democrats, Senate Republicans used their majority to push through the bill to give more power to emergency managers[.]

The House is expected to concur next week. Gov. Rick Snyder has said he'll sign it. Once that happens, it could lead to intervention or, in the worst cases, the state installing an emergency manager who could cancel employee contracts, fire administrators or declare bankruptcy.

The bill allows more than that. As I reported yesterday The corporatocracy's coup d’etat in Michigan:

[The bill would give Gov. Snyder and his administration] the power to declare any town or school district to be in a financial emergency. If a town was declared by the governor and his administration to be in a financial emergency they would get to put somebody in charge of that town, and they want to give that emergency manager that they just put in charge of the town the power to, “reject, modify, or terminate any contracts that the town may have entered in to, including any collective bargaining agreements.”

The bill also has the power to suspend or dismiss elected officials, “This emergency person also gets the power under the bill to suspend or dismiss elected officials. Think about that for a second. Doesn’t matter who you voted for in Michigan. Doesn’t matter who you elected. Your elected local government can be dismissed at will. The emergency person sent in by the Rick Snyder administration could recommend that a school district be absorbed into another school district. That emergency person is also granted power specifically to disincorporate or dissolve entire city governments.”

Our democratic republican form of government and the American middle class is under assault from radical Tea-Publicans serving the interests of multi-national corporations who seek to end our democracy and to impose a corporatocracy. Are you just going to sit their on your couch watching mindless reality TV shows and playing video games? Or are you going to get up off your ass and take to the streets to fight these insurrectionist traitors to save our democratic Republic and the American middle class? This is civil war. Time to decide whose side are you on.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent at the Plum Line reports Wisconsin Dems ask district attorney to invalidate GOP maneuver:

Here's a copy of the legal complaint that Wisconsin Democrats are filing today: They are asking the district attorney who has juristiction to block last night's GOP legislative maneuver, on the grounds that it violated the state's open meeting law. You will find that law attached to the complaint.

The general sense I'm picking up in labor circles today is that people are pessimistic that there will be a legal way to block what happened last night. On the other hand, Dem and labor strategists think it's worth a shot.

The problem here is separation of powers and the doctrine of comity, or legal reciprocity – one branch of government will recognize the legitimacy of the acts of another branch of government, particularly with respect to its own rules and procedures. The court may very well find that the open meetings law was violated but decline to exercise jurisdiction or to enforce the law. This recently happened here in Arizona when the legislature failed to transmit the budget to the governor as required by law and the governor sued, but the court essentially ruled "no harm, no foul" – but warned not to do it again.

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