Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Mary Bottari

Mary Bottari is the Director of the Center for Media and Democracy’s Real Economy Project and editor of the www.BanksterUSA.org site for bank busting activists.

May 26th, 2011 6:05 PM

Wisconsin Judge Declares Walker’s Collective Bargaining Bill “Null and Void”

Today, Wisconsin Judge Maryann Sumi ruled Governor Scott Walker's "budget repair bill," which would eviscerate collective bargaining rights for most public workers in the state, "null and void."

Sumi ruled that lawmakers clearly violated the state's open meetings law in their rush to pass the bill at the height of the capitol protests and that the public interest in the enforcement of the state's open records law outweighed the public interest in sustaining legislative action.

A Dramatic Day in March

Back in March, the Walker "budget repair bill" was stuck in limbo because 14 Democratic Senators left the state to prevent action on the bill. For fiscal bills, a supermajority is needed for final passage. On March 9, Republican lawmakers -- led by Scott Fitzgerald in the Senate and Jeff Fitzgerald in the Assembly -- pulled a fast one. They stripped the bill of fiscal items and hastily convened a Joint Conference Committee to vote on the legislation. Rather than meeting in a standard committee room, the conference committee jammed into the tiny, ornate Senate Parlor with a dozen or so members of the media and a few members of the public.

Because less than two hours notice was given, the "Wisconsin 14" were still out of state and could not make it back in time. Facebook and Twitter ensured that thousands rushed to the capitol building, but they could not get in due to the restrictive door access implemented by the Republicans.

The only Democrat assigned to the committee who could attend was Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), who famously stood in the tense Senate Parlor calmly reading a legal memo from the current Republican Attorney General advising legislators to grant 24 hours notice before important meetings.

In the dramatic footage that was played on national television, Barca repeats over and over, "this meeting is in violation of the open meetings law," while in the background you can clearly hear the chants of "shame, shame, shame" from the crowds gathering under the Senate Parlor window. While many were livid, some were quietly in tears in complete disbelief that they were locked out of the building during a vote that would affect the lives and livelihoods of 300,000 workers across the state. It was the single most dramatic day of the Wisconsin protests.

A Legislator Vindicated

Today, Barca was proved right.

"Today's decision by Judge Sumi restores Wisconsin's long tradition of open government. This ruling sets an important precedent that when the Legislature meets, the people must have a seat at the table. This is a huge victory for Wisconsin democracy," said Barca. Sumi ruled the evidence was "clear and convincing" that a conference committee failed to comply with the law which requires 24 hours notice of meetings. She said that they had not even provided the two hours notice, which is sometimes acceptable in emergencies.

"This case is the exemplar of values protected by the Open Meetings Law: transparency in government, the right of citizens to participate in their government, and respect for the rule of law," Sumi wrote. "It is not the court's business to determine whether 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 is good public policy or bad public policy; that is the business of the Legislature. It is this court's responsibility, however, to apply the rule of law to the facts before it."

Predictably, the Fitzgerald brothers did not take the ruling humbly. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said in a statement: "Act 10 was passed and signed into law in accordance with the rules of the state legislature. I remain confident that the Wisconsin State Supreme Court will rule accordingly and Act 10 will become law."

Apparently, the Fitzgerald brothers are waiting on their friends on the Supreme Court to get them out of the situation they are in rather than properly passing the bill a second time. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that they simply no longer have the votes. Six Republican Senators face recall elections this summer. A second vote might fan the flames of an already angry populace who is ready and willing to replace Governor Walker, according to polls released earlier in the week. Voters say that if the election were held today, they would pick former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold over Walker by a 52-32 margin.

With one third of the Wisconsin Senate up for recall and with the first elections scheduled for July 12, it is certain that there are many more dramatic days ahead in this battle for the future of Wisconsin.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles