May 27, 2011

Maintaining a political blog in Wisconsin

Is like banging your head against a [scuffed limestone] wall:
[Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann] Sumi argues that the state senate violated the open-meetings law by failing to provide 24 hours' notice of a legislative meeting — in this case, the conference committee meeting that forwarded the bill to the full senate. Yet, in her order, she doesn’t address the clear exemption to the rule provided in Senate Rule 93, which allows for no notice of proceedings for conference committee bills. The state statutes clearly give precedence to legislative rules in the case of conflict; Sumi simply believes no conflict exists, ignoring the fact that the bill was, in fact, a conference committee bill.
The rest is blargh blargh dirty hippies blargh union thugs blargh. This is in the National Review (which once upon a time preluded its founder's teevee chat show with the second Brandenburg: these days Old Bach is spinning in his crypt like Frank Luntz on methamphetamines) and its own rather less meticulous composer is the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute "senior fellow" Christian Schneider. WPRI is another outfit wrapped up with Journal Communications, Inc. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel not infrequently features WPRI "policy research" as front page news (the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is considerably less impressed), Christian Schneider is an oft-featured columnist, and Mike Nichols, another WPRI "senior fellow," is a regular columnist.

And Charlie Sykes, another of Journal Communications, Inc.'s marquee performer/clowns, edits WPRI's own magazine and so on and so forth.

They're every single one of them cuddled together in bed.

They also generally don't know what they're talking about and the above is a useful case in point. In fact Judge Sumi found that the defendants failed to give two hours notice of the meeting, whereas the statute is as clear as clear can be: "in no case may the notice be provided less than 2 hours in advance of the meeting." In. No. Case. Judicial conservatives, "strict constructionists," "plain meaning textualists," are you listening.


Moreover the violation concerned the Republicans' selection of a tiny venue for the conference committee meeting, which served to disallow members of the public from attending, where larger accommodation was available. This the WPRI "senior fellow" Schneider simply ignores, despite its being among the crucial connections between the Open Meetings Law and the Wisconsin constitution at the heart of the action.

Schneider then hypocritically claims that Judge Sumi "doesn’t address the clear exemption to the rule provided in Senate Rule 93." Well of course she does, as this invalid argument was among the Fitzgeralds' defenses to the complaint. And there is no such "clear exemption" because Senate Rule 93 addresses the manner of notice required, and not the time of notice required. We've been through this months ago, after Ellen Nowak, chief of staff to the Waukesha County executive, had published at WisPolitics dot com her tissue of defamatory misrepresentations.

Judge Sumi doesn't "simply believe" no conflict exists: The unrebutted evidence that witnesses presented during the court's hearings demonstrated that no conflict exists. And the cherry on the backside of Schneider's remarkable cluelessness is his appeal to a Senate Rule for guidance on what he admits was a conference committee, for which Joint Rules of procedure exist, and which Judge Sumi also addressed.

Senior fellow: The law "allows for no notice." Pure b.s.

In short, WPRI's Schneider is hopeless, uninformed, and flat wrong.


Meanwhile in Journal Communications, Inc.'s daily organ the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the equally addled Patrick McIlheran appeals to yet another Journal Communications, Inc. frequent columnist, Marquette's professor of #rwnj law Rick Esenberg,* to whom McIlheran laughably attributes a "most enlightening insight," linking to the prof's blog post.

McIlheran claims Esenberg "dismantled Sumi's understanding." Except Esenberg did no such thing and in fact repeats the travesty of law committed by the WaukCo. executive's chief of staff. And indeed if one follows the comments thread at Esenberg's blog you will discover your humble correspondent reiterating precisely the evidence and law which yesterday appeared as among the bases for Judge Sumi's decision, and which Esenberg either simply handwaves away or ignores completely.

And has never addressed, as far as I know. Because it's best to remain silent when you are wrong, I suppose, and allow your quasi-colleagues at Journal Communications, Inc. to wallow in their misunderstandings and present long-since-debunked "arguments" as alleged "journalism."

And, naturally, WPRI/Journal Communications, Inc.'s Charlie Sykes will repeat this complete nonsense once again this morning. We discussed similar situations at our panel event in Madison on May 12, and the Journal Communications, Inc. family is making us look like prophets.

Now maybe if we were to predict the Rapture, it will happen for sure and then all the JRNers will fly off to ... somewhere. It really is a joke.

* Esenberg is also trundled out as an expert "who has followed the case closely" in the Journal-Sentinel's straight news report of yesterday's decision. Did you know that he's the only lawyer in the State who has?


capper said...

Unraveling the web between the Walker administration (and now, by default, WISGOP), Journal Miscommunications and the Bradley Foundation (funder of WPRI) is indeed a step through the looking glass.

gnarlytrombone said...

In short, WPRI's Schneider is hopeless, uninformed, and flat wrong

That is custom, usage and precedent at wingnut thunk tinks.

illusory tenant said...

Heh. Good one.

Display Name said...

It's why Schneider should be forever known as the Atomic Pantsload.

Cindy K. said...

Fine. You win. Will it in any way put your closer to your final goal of keeping collective bargaining in Wisconsin's public unions?

illusory tenant said...

I don't follow. What do you mean, 'You win'?

CJ said...

"she doesn’t address the clear exemption to the rule provided in Senate Rule 93, which allows for no notice of proceedings for conference committee bills. The state statutes clearly give precedence to legislative rules in the case of conflict; "

All that blather and the "conflict" is never outlined. I guess anyone can say, "Well, we have a conflict." and therefore it is true.

illusory tenant said...

Read the NRO comments if you want to bang your head a little more.

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