Friday, February 18, 2011

AlterNet: Lawmakers Flee Wisconsin Capitol, State Police Pursue; Protests Swell to 30,000

Lawmakers Flee Wisconsin Capitol, State Police Pursue; Protests Swell to 30,000

As up to 30,000 protesters overwhelmed the state capitol building in Wisconsin today, Democratic Senators hit the road, reportedly with State Police officers in pursuit. The Dems split in order to deprive Republicans the necessary quorum for taking a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's bill to strip benefits and collective bargaining rights from state workers.

One state senator told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he believed all had left the state (h/t Lila Shapiro, The Huffington Post). From the Journal Sentinel:

In a telephone interview, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) declined to give his location but acknowledged that at least one other Democrat was with him. He said that law enforcement would be able to compel him and his members to the Senate floor if they are located in Wisconsin.

"I can tell you this - we're not all in one place," Miller said. "This is a watershed moment unlike any that we have experienced in our political lifetimes. The people have shown that the government has gone too far . . .  We are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure that this bill gets the consideration it needs."

UPDATE: According to Newsradio 620 WTMJ, "Democratic Senator Jon Erpenbach confirmed that he and all of his Democratic colleagues boarded a bus and left the state."

Lest you actually believe (and I know you know better) that Gov. Walker's war on the public workers in his state is simply about, as he says, balancing Wisconsin's budget, please note that Walker is just one among many of Wisconsin's Koch-sponsored politicians, and the Koch brothers are hell-bent on destroying the labor movement once and for all.

During his election campaign, Walker received the maximum $15,000 contribution from Koch Industries, according to Think Progress, and support worth untold hundreds of thousands from the Koch-funded astroturf group, Americans For Prosperity. AlterNet recently reported the role of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Americans For Prosperity in a vote-caging scheme apparently designed to suppress the votes of African-Americans and college students in Milwaukee, and told you of the gaggle of Koch-sponsored politicians who individually graced the podium at last weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference (including several from Wisconsin: Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Ron Johnson). Rep. Michele Bachmann, also a Koch favorite from next-door Minnesota, kicked off the conference.

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