To end a high-stakes stalemate over union rights that has captured the nation's attention, a handful of Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin might have to stand up to their new governor.
Gov. Scott Walker made it clear Monday he won't back off his proposal to effectively eliminate collective bargaining rights for most public employees. Senate Democrats who fled the state last week to delay the plan vowed not to come back to allow it to pass – even if they have to miss votes on other bills Tuesday. And union leaders said they would not let up on protests that have consumed Wisconsin's capital city for a week and made the state the center of a national debate over the role of public employees' unions.
Walker said on "Good Morning America" that there is "no room to negotiate" and rejected a compromise proposal from a Republican state senator.
Protesters who crowded inside the Capitol for a sixth day Sunday had a similar message. They hung a banner in the Capitol reading "Wisconsin needs 3 cou(R)ageous Senators," referring to the number of Republicans needed to join with Democrats to block the bill.
While there has been significant attention devoted to the fact that Walker's 144-page budget repair bill would strip away collective bargaining rights for public employees, the site "Rortybomb" points out a less noticed provision that would allow the state to sell or contract out any state-owned energy asset in no-bid deals with private corporations. From the legislation (emphasis added):
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).It's truly unclear to NFTOS what "the best interest of the state" is.
But if this deal does goes through, one of the companies that will stand to benefit significantly is Koch Industries. Koch already has several companies in the state, including a coal subsidiary, timber plants and a large network of pipelines.
During the 2010 election cycle, Walker received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC, his second-largest contribution. The PAC also gave significantly to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn helped out Walker considerably in his race. Koch also contributed $6,500 to support 16 Republican legislative candidates in the state.
The Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity has also been standing with Walker throughout his budget battles, busing in Tea Party activists and launching the site, Stand With Walker. After the election, Walker and other Republican governors received guidance from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that is also funded by Koch dollars and has pushed anti-union measures.
As we see Koch Industries and Gov. Walker are intertwined tighter than two redneck cousins seeking a marriage partner at a family reunion. I am sure that if one looked deeper into the "corporate funding to tea party alliances" that Faux News and the Chamber of Commerce would be linked to Walker's hip as well.
The last time Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) went after public sector unions it had “disastrous results” for him and for taxpayers. As Milwaukee County Executive in 2009, Walker tried to get rid of the unionized security guards at the county courthouse and replace them with contractors, which he promised would save the county money. The County Board rejected the idea, but in March of 2010 Walker “unilaterally ordered it,” claiming there was a budget emergency. Walker hired the British security contractor Wackenhut — of Kabul Embassy sex scandal fame — to replace the guards. Unfortunately for Walker and Milwaukee taxpayers, an arbiter later ruled that Walker had overstepped his authority, and ordered the county to reinstate the unionized workers, pay backwages, and pay tens-of-thousands of dollars in arbiter fees. As MSNBC’s Racheal Maddow pointed out last night, Walker’s “dress rehersal” for his current union busting effort may end up costing Milwaukee taxpayers an extra half a million dollars. Watch it here at NFTOS:
While his anti-union crusade proved to be a boondagle for Milwaukee County, Walker had escaped in time to wash his hands clean of it, as the arbiter’s ruling against didn’t come down until last month — after Walker had been sworn in as governor. Maddow also notes that the man put in charge of Wackenhut’s security at the courthouse had a criminal record and had served prison time.
Oh Scotty, maybe you should stop while your ahead big guy. In politics of late we certainly hear often about "minions" and "puppet masters". Koch Industries is the great and powerful Oz of the GOP, they are behind the curtain pulling the strings that make the talking heads dance and sing.
When MSNBC speaks on Koch Industries they should embed the caption on their crawl "Republican Puppet Master".
Koch's ideology in itself is incongruent and inimical with the Republican image of strength and individualism.
There lies a hammer that nestles itself next to a sacred stained glass window of Ronald Reagan that watches proudly over the Republican Party. Someone needs to pick up that hammer and start swinging. Now.