April 14, 2011

Walker's big gummint democracy by the numbers

So lemme get this straight.

Milwaukee residents voted nearly 70% to enact an ordinance expanding sick leave provisions for employees, which survived conservative Republican legal challenges all the way to the State Supreme Court, and now Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who swept into office on a Tea Partyish platform and believes government is too powerful, is exercising that power to void the plebiscite.

Our Fitz Van Walker regime really does detest workers, does it not.

Relative to the overhelmingness of a 70% majority — almost unheard of in American politics — Scott Walker won the executive mansion with 52% of the vote last November. More recently incumbent Justice David Prosser achieved a 00.48% (50.24% to 49.76%) margin over challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, who posted substantial gains throughout the State in counties that went for Walker just months ago and for Prosser in the February Supreme Court primary.

This, or so we are told by certain representatives of Journal Communications, Inc. (JRN), the State's largest media conglomerate, was an enormous validation of Walker's policies. Incidentally Steven J. Smith, JRN's CEO, is a board member of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), which filed suit* against the sick leave ordinance. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, JRN's print organ, editorialized against the ordinance on several occasions without identifying this — you would think — pertinent fact.

Justice Prosser, sitting on an evenly divided court, sided with arch conservative Justices Roggensack and Gableman last October (Justice Ziegler — who is figuratively joined at the hips with Roggensack and Gableman — to the undoubted chagrin of the MMAC, sat it out) in seeking to continue a circuit court's injunction** against the ordinance, an injunction the District I Court of Appeals vacated.

In sum, a conservative Republican governor and Supreme Court justice, both installed in Madison on the slimmest of majorities, would sweep away the clear will of the people of Milwaukee with the aid of Journal Communications, Inc.'s various ink-stained*** wretches and radio shouters. And they say this is what democracy looks like.

Now it may be that the sick leave ordinance is a bad idea, that it penalizes employers, or that the vagaries of its text leave open the benefits to abuse by fallible human nature — what benefits aren't — but the numbers are clear, and they rank GOP hypocrisy near the top.

More from Paul Secunda, a professor of employment law at Marquette University, who explains the constitutional implications of Walker's latest decree to a non-Journal Communications, Inc. media outlet.

* JRN's Charlie Sykes Rule for Wis. Radicals: "Litigate everything."

** Yes, you read that correctly. There's been a lot of weeping and bellyaching from conservative Republicans pursuant to a similar situation arising from a Madison court, where a FitzWalker collective bargaining agreement bill is under a writ of injunction, but no such GOP tear was shed when the sick leave ordinance was so enjoined.

That is, those Republicans respect the rule of law only when it's convenient, which is to my mind the most resonant takeaway here.

*** Or E-ink-stained wretches, I guess they would be nowadays.


Mike said...

One of the most telling things about over-turning the sick leave law is that here the Walker administration is concerned about the "effects on Milwaukee business."

They don't seem to share the same concerns about the "effects on the people of Milwaukee" of eliminating residency requirements, another case of local rule they plan on overturning.

gnarlytrombone said...

Excellent summation. I'm convinced part of the motivation behind these measures is to proclaim that "there's a new sheriff in town, and there's not a good goddamn thing you can do about it."