Dividing Wisconsin

In this update: 1. Wedge budget politics incites mass protests 2. Citizen vigil to carry on next week 3. Car dealer memo gives clumsy justification for campaign gifts 4. New York and Wisconsin polar opposites on judicial ethics Dividing Wisconsin

Email date: 2/16/11

In this update:
1. Wedge budget politics incites mass protests
2. Citizen vigil to carry on next week
3. Car dealer memo gives clumsy justification for campaign gifts
4. New York and Wisconsin polar opposites on judicial ethics

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Wedge budget politics incites mass protests
An estimated 13,000 to 14,000 people descended on the Capitol yesterday to protest a fast-tracked budget repair proposal that takes away most collective bargaining rights of most public employees in Wisconsin. Even bigger crowds are expected today as the mass demonstrations against the plan continue. Despite hearing overwhelming opposition to the plan at a public hearing that lasted until 3 a.m., Republicans who control the Legislature say they have the votes to approve it. For more on this, check out our latest Big Money Blog.

At yesterday’s hearing, while opponents of the budget proposal stood in long lines and camped out in an overflow room or in the Capitol rotunda, supporters bused in by the Republican front group Club for Growth were given special entry through a back door and had reserved seating in the hearing room. Finance Committee co-chair Robin Vos told some who questioned the preferential treatment that the committee needed to accommodate the schedules of those who traveled long distances to the hearing so their voices could be heard.

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Citizen vigil to carry on next week
Our citizen vigil at the Capitol will continue next Tuesday despite the fact Governor Scott Walker and state legislators are abandoning ship even though their plan to meet outside the Capitol does not appear to be legal. To sign up to participate in the vigil, go here.

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Car dealer memo gives clumsy justification for campaign gifts
Faced with customers upset by their campaign giving, Wisconsin car dealers clearly are nervous and more than a little defensive about their participation in the political money game. So much so that their statewide trade organization sent them a memo scripting how they should respond to customer concerns.

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New York and Wisconsin polar opposites on judicial ethics
Judges in New York will be barred from hearing cases involving big campaign supporters. The action in New York stands in stark contrast to rules approved by a four-member majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court allowing judges to hear and rule on such cases. The Wisconsin rules were proposed by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association and were approved by Supreme Court Justices Annette Ziegler, Michael Gableman, Patience Roggensack and David Prosser, who is running for reelection this year.