EDITORIAL: Allow the law to be clarified - Beloit Daily News: Opinion

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EDITORIAL: Allow the law to be clarified

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Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 4:00 pm

Taxpayers poorly served by hurry-up negotiations.


IT’S OBVIOUS, as requests pile up across the state, that some public unions are trying to take advantage of what’s likely to be a narrow window in time to circumvent the Wisconsin labor reforms enacted over a year ago.

Limits on collective bargaining currently are in limbo after a Madison judge ruled against the law. That’s being appealed, with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen urging the Wisconsin Supreme Court to expedite the process to decide the issue. Considering the predictable 4-3 split on the court, prospects are very high for the reforms eventually being upheld.

So most units of government, wisely, have resisted hurry-up efforts to skirt the law. Better to let any confusion clear so governing boards know they are operating in accord with law going forward.


A FEW, HOWEVER, clearly prefer to register their unhappiness with state government by rushing to reopen contracts. The latest is Milwaukee Area Technical College, with a 5-4 board decision to negotiate with faculty a year before the current contract is due to expire.

It’s a safe bet to assume the board is not motivated by its desire to save money for taxpayers.

Look, we get it. Reforms adopted by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-dominated legislature were dramatic and unpopular with public employees and others. But voters doubled down by retaining Walker in last June’s recall election. Then voters reaffirmed the direction on Nov. 6 by returning Republicans to full legislative majority, even as they split tickets by electing Democrat Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate and giving Wisconsin’s electoral votes to President Obama.

Politics aside, it’s just common-sense — and keeping faith with taxpayers — to allow the law to be clarified rather than leaping at any chance to get around its provisions.

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  • Delavan Mike posted at 1:15 pm on Sat, Nov 17, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    Regardless of if you want to argue Hitler was democratically elected as "chancellor" or not, he most certainly was NOT elected "dictator", democratically or otherwise.

  • luckydog posted at 2:51 pm on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3595

    Mike there is a huge difference between an easily intimidated Reichstag passing such laws under tremendous Nazi pressure(by the way I contacted Bill Barth who agreed that banning the word Nazi was silly so he said he'd correct it.) and voters choosing them in the sanctity of the voting booth. They and Hitler were never democratically elected no matter how you try to spin it.

  • Mike_Zoril posted at 7:27 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    Mike_Zoril Posts: 2724

    The idea that Hitler wasn't elected democratically is probably an allusion to the fact that he never got more than 50% of the votes (the best result was some 44%). Americans, with their “the winner takes it all”-system tend to forget that you can win a German election without winning a majority.

    The problem with this is that, without a majority, you have to form either a coalition with other parties, or form a minority government, or both, and in fact that was the problem that had plagued the Republic from the beginning. To put the results into perspective, the 43,9% for the NSDAP in the 1933 election was the best result any party had ever had in the Republic of Weimar from 1919 to 1933 (second best was 37.8% for the Social Democrats immediately after WWI). Governments were habitually formed without any democratic basis at all, so the result of the 1933 election might have looked like a step forward.

    It turned out that there is yet another way to govern without a majority – in March 1933 the German parliament passed what is known as „Ermächtigungsgesetz“ (Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich), a law that allowed the N@zi/Deutschnationale Coalition to govern without the consent of the parliament. That this was in fact an unconstitutional law is a mere technicality – it was passed with a vast majority that would have allowed to change the constitution in any case, so the parliament skipped a step.

    So,since Hitler and the NSDAP had more votes than any other party during the Republic of Weimar and governed on the basis of a law that had been passed by the absolute majority of the parliament is seems reasonable to conclude that he was indeed democratically elected.


  • luckydog posted at 5:28 pm on Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3595

    I can't believe it. My first post was flagged for profanity, I simply changed it to eliminate the actual name of Hitler's party, which we all know, and the post went through. Apparently in BDN land the use of the actual name of Hitler's party is a profanity. Go figure.

  • luckydog posted at 5:26 pm on Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3595

    Oh wow, I can't believe I'm violating my semi-retirement from posting already but I can't let absolutely historically false information go unchallenged. Mike Zoril, Hitler was not elected democratically! In the last free elections in pre-Hitler Germany the Hitler's party elected more delegates than any other party , but they did not have a majority. It wasn't until after they burned the Reichstag and Hitler used this as an excuse to ban all the other parties that Hitler became the unchallenged leader of Germany. So it was more of a coup than a democratic election.

  • Mr Data posted at 4:16 pm on Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3832

    Mike says .."Just because the public supports a law that does not make it constitutional. ..... Mr. Barth considers the union attempts to negotiate new contracts now as "skirting the law". Can you really blame them? ... This may be their last chance to accomplish anything. ..."

    I would also say that just because a judge says the law is not fair or leagl, does not make it so, either.

    I ask that we rally look at what has happened with this law?

    First, a Dane County Circuit Judge, Juan Colas, ruled that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and it is null and void. In his 27-page ruling, the judge said sections of the law .... "single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions."

    But later on you will see this judge didn't mean ALL of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association

    Colas said the law violates the EQUAL protection clause by creating separate classes of workers who are treated differently and unequally.

    IRONICALLY, according to this irrational judge .... his ruling ONLY applies to those public union workers affected by the law, teachers ..city .. county government employees, who petitoned the lawsuit and, but not those public union workers employed by the state. The judges ruling seems to disenfranchise tens of thousands of public union workers who are employed by the state because they were not a party to the lawsuit.

    Just what kind of ruling of sincerity and equality for worker fairness is that? Are we to believe that (as according to this judge) ONLY the teachers and the city / county union workers in our nstate were harmed by Walker's law, but not the public union workers who work for the state?

    What a joke!!!

    Walker, in his usual contentious manner, issued a statement accusing the judge of being a "liberal activist" who "wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process."

    The law required public workers, including those union employees who work for the state of WI (though the judge didn't rule for them), to pay more for their health insurance and pension benefits at the same time it took away their ability to collectively bargain over those issues. Walker argued the changes were needed to help state and local governments save money at a time Wisconsin faced a $3 billion budget shortfall.

    In their usual narrow-minded manner ... Democrats and unions were ecstatic with Friday's ruling.
    "As we have said from day one, Scott Walker's attempt to silence the union men and women of Wisconsin's public sector was an immoral, unjust and illegal power grab," said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. The Democratic minority leader in the state Assembly called the ruling a huge victory for workers and free speech.

    I chuckle at both parties involved in this mess.

    The Walker gang continue to strive to push their change to union / labor bargaining down the throats of the state's public union workers and Walker clearly has no intention of attempting to sit down at a table to negotiate with state public labor unions. I believe that to be Walker's biggest mistake. Because as we see -- akin to the Obamacare law -- Walker's law was too one sided to stick, and it is under attack for that reason. Obamacare has already been ruled on by the Supreme Court and it is a legal TAX. It, too, will continue to face strong resistance from the nation.

    The Democrats / labor unions (except those working for the state of WI) think they have won this great big decisive VICTORY, except, as usual, they have chosen to be elated with this goofy judge's ruling that doesn't even represent all of their own. As I havew always said.. the Dems are simply the party of ME. As long as the most important three people in the world are taken care of -- ME, MYSELF and I -- then I, as a Denocrat, am happy with whomever makes that happen for us!

  • Mike_Zoril posted at 9:43 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Mike_Zoril Posts: 2724

    The public does not always elect the right people. Keep in mind that Hitler was elected democratically. Was that a good deal for Germany?

  • Delavan Mike posted at 8:38 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    Just because the public supports a law that does not make it constitutional. History is full of laws passed by legislatures and supported by the public that were eventually deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Mr. Barth is absolutely correct that the Wisconsin Supremes will uphold the law because they have shown no inclination to vote anything other than party-line. Hopefully the U.S. Supreme Court will have their say. Mr. Barth considers the union attempts to negotiate new contracts now as "skirting the law". Can you really blame them? The law they are skirting made them almost completely powerless. This may be their last chance to accomplish anything. Why wouldn't they give it a shot. It doesn't mean much as almost every municipality that has been asked has said no, so is it reallly a big deal?


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