Scott Walker’s Trials and Travails Continue
“While certain statutory obligations regarding publication of Act 10 have been satisfied by the Legislative Reference Bureau, the statutory obligation that relates to the effective date of Act 10 has not yet been satisfied by the Secretary of State, and at this time the Secretary’s actions remain subject to the temporary restraining order issued in Dane County Circuit Court.” The legislation has now been twice enjoined and more likely than not will end up before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Governor Walker’s problems have now mushroomed past the mere specifics and technicalities that exist in the legal realm. For one thing, actions beyond his electoral mandate have served to galvanize support for the rights of collective bargaining in spite of the fact that many people remain skeptical about the role of unions. Citing a New York Times/CBS News poll from late February:
“Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent. While a slim majority of Republicans favored taking away some bargaining rights, they were outnumbered by large majorities of Democrats and independents who said they opposed weakening them. Those surveyed said they opposed, 56 percent to 37 percent, cutting the pay or benefits of public employees to reduce deficits… The poll found that an overwhelming 71 percent of Democrats opposed weakening collective bargaining rights. But there was also strong opposition from independents: 62 percent of them said they opposed taking bargaining rights away from public employee unions.”
A compendium of poll results available on this issue appearing in PollingReport.com reveals that the public generally supports the right to engage in collective bargaining, often by large margins.
Walkers woes are not just growing because of the changing attitudes on the part of his natural enemies and newly disaffected independents, he now has problems within the ranks of those who would normally be considered his allies. In Wisconsin and beyond, many fiscal conservatives are now voicing concern that drastic fiscal measures may ultimately imperial the quality of education. To wit:
“Although they consider themselves fiscal conservatives, many of the same people who put Walker and other GOP leaders into office are now having second thoughts, largely because the cuts they are seeking could put the quality of their cherished local schools at risk… His two-year spending plan includes an 8 percent cut in aid to schools – about $835 million. And he wants to require districts to reduce their property-tax authority by an average of $550 per pupil – a move that makes it more difficult for schools to compensate for the lost money.”
Another group that has parted company with Walker are cops and firefighters. According to a recent report by Jeanne Cummings of Politico: “Already, rank-and-file police officers and firefighters who long viewed themselves as separate from the rest of the movement are carrying picket signs, signing petitions and standing side-by-side with their labor brethren.” In a direct rebuke to Walker, Wisconsin police officers refused to take actions against peaceful demonstrators and then lined up with them in their protest. Likewise, Wisconsin firefighters have now cast their lot with anti-Walker forces:
“Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Wisconsin Professional Firefighters Association, said his members turned against Walker when the legislation went beyond expectations to include the ban on future collective bargaining rights. It’s not about money anymore. It’s about taking away workers’ rights to sit down with employees. We couldn’t sit idly by and let that happen,” he said.”
Likewise, the tide in the political realm has now turned against Scott Walker. In yesterday’s special elections, the conservative running to fill Scott Walker’s seat as Milwaukee County Executive, Republican Jeff Stone, was overwhelmed in a landslide by challenger Chris Abele in what has become a proxy vote on the Walker administration. Likewise, the battle for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, also seen as a proxy, was too close to call. Walker’s ally, incumbent David Prosser, is in a battle to remain on the court in an election he was supposed to win without much effort now heading to the first recount in the state in more than 20 years. Among the rank and file Republicans of Wisconsin the mood seems to be far from optimistic as well:
“Both national and Wisconsin-based Republican operatives tell the Huffington Post the party is being dramatically outworked and out-organized by Democrats in the recall campaigns being launched against state Senators…While the Wisconsin Democratic Party, with major assists from progressive groups and unions, has harnessed resentment towards the governor into a full-throttled effort to recall eight GOP Senators, neither the enthusiasm nor organizational acumen exists on the Republican side of the aisle.”
In one instance, Wisconsin Democrats have already attained 100% of the signatures required to recall Republican State Senator Dan Kapanke, an event seen to be energizing the collection of signatures aimed at recalling other Republican State Senators as well. And in what may be one of the most tragi-comic twists to the whole recall campaign, the wife of one State Senator, Randy Hopper, has now joined the recall effort against him. You see Hopper left his wife to live outside of his district with his 25 year old mistress. She apparently had been given a job as a “communications liaison” within the Walker Administration at 35% more money than was received by her predecessor. So much for the fiscal restraint, family values and the social rectitude of some Wisconsin conservatives.
It would appear that the tide has more than turned against the political extremism of Scott Walker and that the full drama has yet to play out. Many of my friends on the far right like to reiterate the now shopworn phrase that “elections have consequences’ and state that Scott Walker is merely working within the parameters of his electoral mandate. However, while elections do have consequences, the actions on the part of the elected that violate that mandate by going beyond what the voters voted for have consequences as well. I have read over several pieces of Scott Walker’s campaign material and examined his website as well and nowhere did I find any evidence that Walker ran on a platform that contained any reference to dismantling public unions or curtailing collective bargaining to wages within a cost of living index. In the final analysis, Walker’s bold gamble to exceed his mandate to fulfill his personal anti-union agenda and that of others may ultimately be his own undoing, representing as it may, one of the high watermarks of rightwing political extremism, which resulted from the 2010 election cycle.
Steven J. Gulitti
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