Wisconsin

Did the Union-Busting Bill Just Become Law?

News outlets are reporting that the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) has published Governor Walker's union-busting bill, despite a court order preventing publication on grounds that the bill's passage likely violated Open Meetings laws. A quick review of the statutes suggests the bill may have become law, but also suggests the entire court battle may have been focused on the wrong characters, and that the state has arguably violated the court order.

Indiana Prosecutor's Email to Walker Encouraged Wisconsin Violence

Johnson County, Indiana deputy prosecutor and Republican activist Carlos Lam resigned from his job after the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism discovered an email he sent to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker suggesting the governor have an "associate" make a fake, violent attack to discredit union protesters and influence media coverage of the protests. Lam resigned shortly before the Center published a story containing excerpts of the email sent from Lam's account on February 19 praising Walker for standing up to unions and suggesting a "false flag" attack on Walker. Lam wrote,

...I think that the situation in Wisconsin presents a good opportunity for what's called a 'false flag' operation. If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions' cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the public unions. ... Employing a false flag operation would assist in undercutting any support the media may be creating in favor of the unions. God bless, Carlos F. Lam.

Lam denies writing the email, saying his email account was hacked. It would have been easy to verify whether his email account had been hacked by examining information that could be obtained from Hotmail and his Internet service provider, but Lam declined to reveal the provider's name to the Center so they could check out the hacking claim. This news follows an earlier admission by Governor Walker to a prank caller pretending to be David Koch of Koch Industries that he and his team had considered placing troublemakers in the crowd, but Walker claims to have rejected the idea for political considerations.

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"Have You No Decency?"

Professor William CrononWilliam Cronon is a professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the prize winning author of many books such as Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, which revolutionized the study of environmental history. He is known as a guy with such a deep and abiding love of Wisconsin and its traditions that he leads the "get to know us" bus tour of the state offered to new faculty each year. Glaciers, rocks and history are on his agenda; politics and cheese he leaves to fellow-Wisconsinite and Capital Times editor John Nichols.

But this mild-mannered professor kicked a hornet's nest this week with an op-ed in the New York Times on Governor Scott Walker, and the push back was immediate. The Wisconsin GOP is now demanding his emails.

FOX to Be Fined by FCC for Fake News; CMD's Complaint on "Video News Releases" Nets New Proposed Fines

FoxliesA FOX News station has been sent a notice of a proposed fine for airing fake news in the form of a "video news release" (VNR) without disclosing that the "news" segment featuring General Motors was produced to promote GM's cars.

As Jonathan Make reports in Communications Daily, the Federal Communications Commission has issued a notice of a proposed fine to FOX's Minneapolis affiliate for what amounted to a commercial for GM's convertibles masquerading as news. The VNR had been provided to the station by "FOX News Edge," which is described as "a news service for broadcast stations affiliated with the FOX Network."

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WI Court of Appeals asks WI Supreme Court to Review Decision Halting Union-Busting Bill

A Wisconsin appellate court is asking the state Supreme Court to consider Attorney General JB Van Hollen's appeal of last Friday's order halting implementation of Governor Walker's union-busting bill. Because the appeal raises significant issues the Wisconsin Supreme Court would review on appeal, the court believes judicial efficiency warrants fast-tracking the case. This places Justice David Prosser in an awkward position.

Will “Bitches” and “Turds” Decide the Fate of Wisconsin?

The reign of lawlessness continues in Wisconsin.

Last week, a local court issued a stay temporarily blocking the implementation of Governor Scott Walker's radical proposal to do away with most collective bargaining rights for public workers and cripple labor's ability to collect union dues. The court put a halt to the publication of the bill (an act performed by the Secretary of State), so there could be a hearing on whether or not the Wisconsin Senate violated the state's strong open meetings law in its rush to ram the bill through.

Walker's Costly Perpetuation of Prejudicial Corrections Policies

As CMD has previously reported, Governor Walker's budget bill will have a negative impact on Wisconsin's populations of color, especially in regards to perpetuating Wisconsin's atrocious record of racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Walker's effort to prolong prison sentences will also result in increased costs not reflected in the budget, at the expense of spending on education and health.

WI Attorney General Seeks Appeal of Decision Halting Union-Busting Bill

Attorney General JB Van Hollen is seeking to appeal last Friday's order halting implementation of Governor Walker's union-busting bill. While the trial court found that the bill's rushed passage likely violated state Open Meetings laws, the Court of Appeals is being asked to consider whether that decision conflicted with separation of powers principles.

As CMD has reported, on March 18 Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi found that legislators had likely violated Open Meetings laws by providing inadequate notice for the March 9 Joint Conference Committee meeting and subsequent Senate vote that amended and passed Gov. Walker's controversial bill. In making her decision, Judge Sumi noted that the law states "any actions taken at a meeting of a governmental body held in violation [of Open Meetings law] are voidable," provided that the District Attorney brings the suit and the public interest in voiding the bill outweighs any public interest in upholding it. Sumi emphasized the Constitutionally-recognized public interest in ensuring open government, stating "we are entitled by law to free and open access to governmental meetings, and especially governmental meetings that lead to the resolution of very highly conflicted and controversial matters."

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