What Class Warfare Looks Like

Mike Konczal has a rough transcript, starting about 45 seconds in:

Representative Barca:  Excuse me, Mr. Chairman I have a question about the open meeting rule being violated…Most importantly, before we even get started, obviously I’m going to want to have a summary of this bill from our director Lane, so I understand what’s in here.

Chairman:  It’s the same bill you debated for 60 hours.

Barca:  So there’s nothing different?

Chairman:  No.  We just removed items from it.

Barca:  Removed what?

Chairman:  Removed items.  There’s nothing new.

Barca:  So can we get a description of what was removed?

Chairman:  Nothing new.

Barca:  Well, you said things were removed Mr. Chairman.  I want to know what’s removed.  It seems to me that the body should have and our community should know what we are voting on.  So what was removed?  I need to know that.  So I do want a description from Director Lane….But before we even get into that I want this is a violation of the open meeting law.  It is required, I have here a memo from the current Attorney General, not a past one the current one.  August 2010.  No Wisconsin Court decision will allow meetings unless you have good cause to provide less than 24 hours notice of a meeting.   The provision, like all other provisions of the open meetings law must be construed in favor of providing the public with the fullest and most complete information about government affairs…

Chairman:  Representative Barca.

Barca:  that’s compatible with government business…

Chairman:  Representative Barca.  Clerk, call roll.

Barca:  NO EXCUSE ME  It says if there’s any doubt as to whether or not good cause exists the governmental body should provide 24 hours notice. This is clearly a violation of the open meetings law.  You have been shutting people down…

Members:  Aye.

Last night was as clear an example as any I’ve ever seen of how Republicans are waging class war on the American middle class. As Rep. Barca points out, what the happened in Wisconsin during last night’s conference committee meeting clearly violated the state’s open meetings law, which require 24 hour notice prior to a governmental meeting. David Dayen has been astutely documenting the ways in which how the WI Senate Republicans split off the repeal of collective bargaining to make it “non-fiscal” (despite arguing for a month that it was a fiscal provision) failed to actually remove fiscal items from the language they voted on:

But that does not address the potential fiscal impact in what remained. On page 12 of the LFB memo you see a item that would “reduce funding… in the Joint Committee on Finance’s general program revenue supplemental appropriation.” On page 17, you see the changes to public employee health and pension benefits. On page 33, there’s an inclusion of a particular piece of wetlands in a tax incremental financing district, which appears to be tax relief. It would be hard to imagine that these pieces don’t have a fiscal impact. In fact, the Wisconsin State Journal, one of the more staid publications in the state, basically came this close to accusing the Republicans of outright lying

One of the Wisconsin 14 Democratic State Senators who’ve bravely stayed away for the last number of weeks and created the delay that allowed protests to gather steam did in fact go so far as to call Governor Walker a liar last night on MSNBC (sorry I don’t have the quote). State Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller had this to say after the Republicans dishonest and dishonorable actions yesterday:

“In thirty minutes, 18 State Senators undid fifty years of civil rights in Wisconsin.

“Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten.

“Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people.

“Tomorrow we will join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government.”

The solidarity between Wisconsin Democrats, unionized workers of both the public and private sector, students and the general public has been truly inspiring. It will continue in the face of this latest assault and I can’t imagine anything but a further slide in approval for Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans in Madison who rammed this bill through over unprecedented public opposition.

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