Dane County judge strikes down collective bargaining law

A Dane County judge has struck down Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation repealing most collective bargaining for public employees.

In a 33-page decision issued Thursday, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said she would freeze the legislation because GOP lawmakers on a committee broke the state’s open meetings law in passing it March 9.

The legislation limits collective bargaining to wages for all public employees in Wisconsin except for police and firefighters.

“This decision explains why it is necessary to void the legislative actions flowing from those violations,” wrote Sumi, who was appointed to the bench by former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson.

But the issue is far from settled. The state Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for next month on whether to take over the case.

GOP lawmakers also have said they would consider passing the law a second time as part of the 2011-’13 state budget if it was necessary to ensure that it takes effect.

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Andrew Klavan: Behold! Your Public Sector Unions at Work.

Public employee pension bomb is lit

states are short $1.26 trillion in unfunded liabilities and worse, the gap is growing as is the number of states affected.

Reuters:

States are short $1.26 trillion in paying for public employee pensions and other retirement benefits, a gap that grew 26 percent in one year and will take many more years to wipe out, according to a report released on Tuesday.

A total of 31 states had pensions that were underfunded in fiscal 2009, the latest year for which data is available, up from 22 states a year earlier, the Pew Center on the States reported.

The financial crisis in 2008 crushed many pension funds’ investments, just as historic budget woes forced governments to cut contributions to those funds.

The combination “made a serious problem even worse,” said Susan Urahn, the Pew Center’s managing director.

In fiscal 2009, which for most states began in July 2008, states were short $660 billion for future pension payments and $604 billion for other retiree benefits, namely healthcare.

Growing unfunded pension liabilities on top of still daunting state budget gaps are a top concern of Wall Street rating agencies and investors in the $2.9 trillion municipal bond market. Most states are legally bound to pay retirees benefits, and they must make up for any investment loss from their already depleted treasuries or by borrowing.

Pensions are deemed “underfunded” when they are unable to pay at least 80 percent of liabilities.

Preliminary data for fiscal 2010 shows that pension funding levels of 10 states deteriorated further, while just three registered increases, Pew found.

We simply can’t raise taxes enough to cover the shortfalls. Michael Barone:

Many on the political left decry the disappearance of defined benefit pension plans from the private sector and strive mightily to maintain them for public-sector employees. They argue that people with defined contribution plans often don’t save enough for a comfortable retirement or make bad investment choices.

They argue that defined benefit plans and defined benefit public policies provide you with absolute 100 percent security and eliminate all risk. Unfortunately, it’s becoming clear they don’t.

The people who put defined benefit plans and policies in place assumed there always would be someone able to pay for them.

There always would be enough new workers to pay for retirees’ Social Security and Medicare. Benefits were raised on the assumption that the baby boom generation would produce a baby boom of its own. Oops. Birth rates near replacement levels, which we have now, are not enough. The ratio of workers to retirees is in inexorable decline.

The problem is that in order to move into a defined contribution plan, state laws like those in Wisconsin would have to be changed. Plus, you couldn’t move workers nearing retirement into the more sensible defined contribution plans because of fairness.

So it seems certain that the defined benefit plans will be with us for the foreseeable future – if they don’t bankrupt us first, as they very well might.

Wis. Police Defy Orders: Is It Anarchy?

An occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol by protesters fighting efforts to strip public workers of union bargaining rights carried on Sunday after police decided not to forcibly remove demonstrators and end a nearly two-week-long sit-in.

The state agency that oversees the Capitol asked the throngs of demonstrators who have camped out inside the building since Feb. 15 to leave by 4 p.m., saying the building was in dire need of a cleaning.

But in the hours before the deadline came and after it passed, it was clear most protesters did not intend to leave voluntarily and police had no immediate intention of forcing them to go.

Late Sunday night, Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said no demonstrators would be arrested as long as they continue to obey the law.

“People here have acted lawfully and responsibly,” Tubbs said. “There’s no reason to consider arrests.”

Tubbs said demonstrators who have occupied all three floors of the Capitol will have to relocate to the ground floor. He added that anyone who leaves the building will not be allowed back in, although police will allow union officials to bring food into the building for the protesters.

Demonstrators began camping out inside the normally immaculate Capitol two weeks ago in an effort to fight legislation proposed by Wisconsin’s new Republican governor, Scott Walker, that would strip most of the state’s public employees of the right to collectively bargain.

Labor leaders and Democratic lawmakers say the bill is intended to undermine the unions and weaken a key base of Democratic Party voters.

Read more here.

Lawlessness In America: Unions Go Beserk

The Green Bay Press Gazette:

Hundreds of off-duty police officers and deputies joined protests today against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill that would strip most collective bargaining powers from about 170,000 public employees.

Police, state troopers and firefighters are exempt from Walker’s proposal, but even as some marched on the downtown Capitol Square, hundreds of other officers from around the state provided security.

They came equipped with riot gear, including helmets and batons, they said, but didn’t expect trouble.

The Understory blog posts this:

From inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, RAN ally Ryan Harvey reports:

“Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside.”

Ryan reported on his Facebook page earlier today:

“Police have just announced to the crowds inside the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin: ‘We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what’s right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact, we will be sleeping here with you!’ Unreal.”

More from the Press Gazette:

Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Cpl. Matt Spence and Deputy Todd Traas stood guard on the Capitol’s northwest side directing pedestrians toward entrances to the building.

“We left at 3 a.m. on Thursday and have been (in Madison) ever since,” Traas said. Five Sheboygan County deputies were on duty Saturday.

They came equipped with riot gear, including helmets and batons, they said, but didn’t expect trouble.

“It’s been great,” Spence said.

Richard Daley, 62, of Green Bay, who retired from the Madison Police Department after 20 years on the force, came back to Madison on Saturday “supporting the fact that we all see this as union busting and wage suppression. This is a long-term, downward spiral of wages for working families.”

Wausau police Detective Cord Buckner, 42, stoically stood in the cold with an American flag wrapped around his face and holding a “Cops for Labor” sign as thousands of demonstrators marched around the Capitol.

“I‘m here to support all the unions’ rights,” he said. Saturday was his fourth day demonstrating in Madison since protests began, even though members of his union, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, won‘t be affected directly by Walker’s bill.

“The aggregate effect on public employees will affect police unions eventually,” he said.

More from the Union Terrorists:

Tabitha Hale Recounts Attack by a Peace Loving Union Protestor

Basically, it’s ridiculous. I’m a 5′1 female in a dress, and he was standing up on a garden wall above me in the courtyard. He hardly felt threatened. I was stunned, because generally protesters are there to, you know, get their message out. They don’t normally shy away from the camera.

I’m very much okay, and very appreciative of the support from my fellow bloggers and activists today. I am, however, shaken up by the level of sheer hatred I experienced today. The look of fury on his face in the close up is appalling. I had not exchanged a word with him. He didn’t know who I was. He didn’t even know my name, what I do. He had probably surmised that I was with FreedomWorks and that was enough.

This just can’t be tolerated anymore. It’s one thing to be called a violent teabagger. It’s another to be called a violent teabagger while you’re being assaulted. They’ve been comparing themselves to the Egyptians ousting Mubarak. Looks like they’re not too far off, given that they share the tendency to assault women with cameras.

In addition, it’s disgusting to me that the first response I received from the Left was rationalization. “You were too close, respect personal space” and “well he obviously didn’t want to be filmed!” – essentially, it’s the “her skirt was too short” defense. No one deserves to be hit. The concern from a bystander was that “You’ll get on the news, stop it!” Unfortunately for him, he did not know who he was dealing with. I will ensure that this happens.

I was not asking for this. There was no confrontation between the thug and myself prior to this. He had not asked me to put the camera away. I was not as close as the video implies (it was cropped from a vertical iPhone video so it would fit on youtube). I was simply filming a protest, as I have done for the past two years. Amazingly enough, none of those crazy right wing extremists ever hit me.

At this point, I’m grateful we moved to a higher security building last month. For a bunch of violent racists, the Left sure seems to be comfortable threatening and attacking us.

We must really suck as bullies.

Democrats Call for the Blood of American Citizens

An elected official has called for blood in the streets. At a pro-union rally in Boston on Tuesday, Rep. Michael Capuano called for workers protesting in the streets to “get a little bloody when necessary.” This isn’t just rhetoric, it’s plain incitement to riot. Where is the FBI? The Civility Police?

From the Dorchester Reporter:

“This is going to be a struggle at least for the next two years. Let’s be serious about this. They’re not going to back down and we’re not going to back down. This is a struggle for the hearts and minds of America,” Capuano said, referring to the Tea Party counter-protestors as a “couple of nuts in the background.”

“I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going. Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary,” he continued.


Nobody said grappling power away from labor unions with 80 years of entrenchment behind them would be easy. Another of the speakers at the rally was Rep. Stephen Lynch, a South Boston Democrat and former local iron workers’ union president. He compared the Tea Party, who by the way has every right to speak its mind in the public square, to “Alice in Wonderland.”

“There’s a difference between compromise and surrender, and the governor of Wisconsin wants us to surrender….,” Lynch said. “There are two visions of America here. There’s the Tea Party vision and the vision of the American worker.”

Who comprises the Tea Party, Mr. Lynch? Only managers, bosses, wealthy elites? I think not. The Left consistently uses hate speech to rile up its supporters. Just this morning Glenn Beck played a cute little country tune from the SEIU. The words sound a lot like Capuano’s. “We got to smash them [bosses] to the ground.”