Wisconsin Democrats flee to Illinois

LA Times photoGoing from bad to worse?

This is almost comic, if it weren’t so….real. And painful, for a lot of folks.

The Wisconsin state Senate has adjourned indefinitely awaiting the arrival of Democrats who skipped town on Thursday.

Republicans met briefly today and adjourned. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says it can reconvene in short notice at any time, including over the weekend, if Democrats return.

Fitzgerald says he has no idea where the Democrats are and he hasn’t been in contact with Minority Leader Mark Miller since Thursday.

Oh, this gets ‘curioser.’ Turns out they fled to Illinois.

Republicans had warned since last year’s campaign that they would seek major concessions from unions. But for lawmakers in the minority, “The only other option we had to slow things down was to leave.”

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach said the decision to flee happened on the spur of the moment as Democrats gathered near the Capitol for a regular strategy meeting Thursday morning.

Get this…

An hour later, he threw a few travel essentials — a toothbrush, razor and some clothes — into a duffel bag and a backpack. He took just two or three minutes to pack, and jumped in a car for a prearranged meeting at a hotel in Rockford, Ill., just south of the Wisconsin border.

The lawmakers were concerned that police could have detained them, even though the Wisconsin Constitution prohibits the arrest of state lawmakers while the Legislature is in session, except in cases of felonies, breaches of the peace or treason.

“We knew their jurisdiction ends at the state line, and that’s why we came to Illinois,” Erpenbach said.

From Rockford, the legislators headed in different directions, most of them traveling to the Chicago area or to other parts of northern Illinois, Erpenbach said.

State Senate Democrats said they would stay away for days or even weeks, while Republican efforts to pass the bill in the state Assembly also faced obstacles.

This is so childish. Utterly jaw-dropping behavior, from elected representatives.

As for the rich line: “The only other option we had to slow things down was to leave.”…

A friend of mine went on her social network to say what plenty of folks are thinking, as I’m hearing it.

See, in the US that I grew up in, when you lose an election, you then have to show up to lose votes. The Democrats are willing to sacrifice American democracy on the altar of union demands. Disgusting.

The first option they had was to turn up to do the job they were elected to do, even and especially when the going gets rough, and the outcome is beyond their manipulation. Imagine if the Republicans in Washington, during the first two years of the Obama administration (especially in the heat of the health reform battles), fled town and said “the only other option we had to slow things down was to leave.”


I held this post over from Friday into Saturday, hoping it would become outdated and replaced by common sense.

No such luck. It got more ridiculous. Not only have teachers refused to hold classes for days while they picket, now doctors are willing to cover them with bogus sick notes so they could take official leave for their absence.

The Madison School District has said teachers who call in sick to protest won’t be paid, but a group of licensed Wisconsin doctors came to the capitol today saying they would write a physician’s note for anyone who asked.

Dr. Kathy Oriel told ABC affiliate WKOW-TV in Madison that the doctors realize they could get in trouble for their offer.

“We think its worth the risk,” she said.

Thus, professionals and working class folks are staking their claims and their future in the outcome of this pitched battle.

Despite the influx of supporters, pro-union activists were in the majority at the dueling rallies in Madison as nearly 70,000 people filled the square outside the capitol building. Tea party members’ voices were added to the chorus of dissent on the fifth day of the massive, peaceful protests.

Walker supporters chanted “Pass the bill! Pass the bill!” as pro-union picketers shouted back “Kill the bill! Kill the bill!” Tea party protesters carried signs reading “Your Gravy Train Is Over … Welcome to the Recession” and “Sorry, we’re late Scott. We work for a living.”

So right about here….two things, both from the Chicago Tribune editors.

One: What irony that fleeing Wisconsin legislators picked Illinois as their retreat encampment. The state that has been bankrupted by politicians planning to raise lots of additional taxes to pay off those debts….continuing the trend of a certain political ideology that you can spend your way out of debt.

And Two: Those folks late to the protests in Wisconsin, because they were working, already got this…a Thomistic/Aristotelian concept that’s been lost on the entitlement population. The common good.

America’s labor movement can claim historic victories that have served the common good. Safer workplaces. Laws to protect children from workplace exploitation. The eight-hour workday. Those who are in unions can justifiably be proud of those and other accomplishments.

But how proud are they that the children of Madison, Wis., have missed school the last two days because so many of their teachers abandoned their classrooms and joined a mass demonstration? Joined a mass demonstration to intimidate the members of the Wisconsin Legislature, who are trying to close a $3 billion deficit they face over the next two years?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has demanded that state workers contribute roughly 5.8 percent of their wages toward their retirement. He wants them to pay for 12 percent of their health-care premiums. Those modest employee contributions would be the envy of many in the private sector.


Public sentiment is changing. There is a growing sense that public-sector unions are not battling for better, safer workplaces. They’re not battling unscrupulous employers. They’re battling … the common good.


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