March 26, 2011

Comedy of Errors

When Judge Maryann Sumi enjoined the Wisconsin Secretary of State from publishing the just-passed union legislation (just before leaving on vacation) the desperate union left rejoiced. One little problem -- it looks like she enjoined the wrong party, and the law was published anyway.

Wisconsin Union Law Published Despite Court Order

Wisconsin officials couldn't agree Friday about whether an explosive law taking away nearly all public worker collective bargaining rights was about to take effect after a nonpartisan legislative bureau published it despite a court order blocking implementation.

...Walker signed the collective bargaining measure March 11 and La Follette had designated Friday as the date of publication. But after the restraining order, La Follette sent a letter to the Reference Bureau saying he was rescinding the publication date.

The Reference Bureau said it's still required to publish every new law within 10 working days after it's signed by the governor, on the date designated by the secretary of state, so it went ahead on Friday.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice issued a statement saying it would evaluate how the publication of the law, which it said was lawful, affects the lawsuit that prompted the restraining order. The bureau's action did not require anything to be done by La Follette and he was not in violation of the court's order, the DOJ statement said.

Long story short: Apparently, Sumi enjoined the wrong party.

SoS La Follette (a partisan Democrat who openly acknowledged pushing back the publication date as far as he legally could to facilitate unions getting contracts in place before the law took effect) did not violate the injunction. The SoS's only discretion is in setting the date of publication, which must be within ten working days of the Governor's signature on the bill. Nor does WI statute appear to give the SoS any power to rescind once the date is set. Sumi's order enjoined the SoS from publishing the law, but it is not the SoS that initially publishes, it's the LRB. The SoS publishes later in the state newspaper, but it appears to be the LRB publication that counts for activating the statute. The law gives the LRB no discretion about whether or not to publish, the LRB was not enjoined, had a statutory DUTY to publish, and did so.

There will be much bickering about "intent" and so forth, and not being a lawyer I will simply watch the proceedings with amusement. We do love a circus! For those interested in the technicalities, this piece by Marquette law professor Rick Esenberg is a good start. A good takeaway quote:

"District Attorney Ozanne and Judge Sumi never had the authority to stop publication and their failure to read the law has only resulted in their own errors being negated. There is poetic justice in that."

Indeed. And some delicious irony too.

March 25, 2011

Save the Children!

San Francisco becoming a child-free zone as youth population declines
Despite efforts to stem the tide of family flight, the population of children in San Francisco continues to ebb.

...The decrease is disappointing news for city officials, who have attempted to counter the family-flight trend by creating more affordable housing, improving schools and cutting costs, such as a college savings account for kindergarten enrollees.

Yeah, it's a real mystery. No one could ever have seen this coming. Right?

March 14, 2011

Law of the Instrument, Redux

Kaplan's Law of the Instrument states: "Give a small boy a hammer and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding."

I was amused to stumble over Gabriel Malor's variation: "If your only tool is a hammer, then all your problems start to look like people that need to be beat with a hammer."

March 12, 2011


I don't have a lot to add to the screaming in Wisconsin (Ann Althouse and hubby Meade have already done a fine job of on-site reporting) other than a few observations. One of which is this:

March 10, 2011
Mr. Tom Ellis, President
Marshall & Ilsley Corporation
770 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Dear Mr. Ellis:
As you undoubtedly know, Governor Walker recently proposed a “budget adjustment bill” to eviscerate public employees’ right to collectively bargain in Wisconsin...

As you also know, Scott Walker did not campaign on this issue when he ran for office. If he had, we are confident that you would not be listed among his largest contributors. As such, we are contacting you now to request your support.

The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.

In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company. However, if you join us, we will do everything in our power to publicly celebrate your partnership in the fight to preserve the right of public employees to be heard at the bargaining table.Wisconsin’s public employee unions serve to protect and promote equality and fairness in the workplace. We hope you will stand with us and publicly share that ideal.

In the event you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact the executive Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, Jim Palmer, at 608.273.3840. Thank you in advance for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

James L. Palmer, Executive Director
Wisconsin Professional Police Association
Mahlon Mitchell,President
Professional Fire Fighters
Jim Conway, President
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 311
John Matthews, Executive Director
Madison Teachers, Inc.
Keith Patt, Executive Director
Green Bay Education Association
Bob Richardson, President
Dane County Deputy Sheriffs Association
Dan Frei, President
Madison Professional Police Officers Association

If this were teachers making boycott threats, it would be garden variety union weight-swinging, annoying perhaps but quite legitimate. But when law enforcement and fire fighters utter such veiled threats, it starkly illustrates exactly WHY public-sector unions are a bad idea for a free society.

As the racketeers always say, "Nice business you have there. Shame if anything were to happen to it." By stacking up the law enforcement and fire unions as the majority of the signers, the implied threat is clear. "Support us ... or else." Don't expect any rapid response or strenuous investigations when your building or home or vehicles get vandalized or torched, or when you or your employees are harassed and/or assaulted. It's not only an implied threat, it's a backhanded invitation to fellow travelers to demonstrate the Protection Principle to you.

On a lighter note, one of the funnier headlines of the day:

Wisconsin labor protesters refuse to quit

Heh. And you can't just fire them, they're union!