Getting to a Wisconsin Senate Quorum

Wisconsin Senate rules require a 3/5 quorum in the Senate. There are currently 19 Republican senators, and 14 Democrat senators.

The GOP needs one more to get to 20.

The Democrat senators have apparently said they will stay away for weeks if necessary.

If the GOP majority could replace one Democrat with a Republican, that would give them 20. The remaining Democrat state senators could stay in Illinois watching ESPN and chatting up the waitresses as long as they want. The GOP could proceed without them.

If the length of play really is weeks then Article XIII, Sec. 12 of the Wisconsin Constitution, which provides for recall elections, could be used.

The qualified electors of the state of any congressional, judicial or legislative district or of a county may petition for the recall of any incumbent elective officer after the first year of the term for which the incumbent was elected … .

So, any recall could only be directed at Senators elected in 2008, not 2010.

Looking at the Democrats elected to the Wisconsin Senate in 2008 it appears that Democrat Sen. Jim Holperin won a squeaker, with 51% over his Republican opponent, in an open race. So, Sen. Holperin is the most vulnerable Democrat Wisconsin state senator.

The Wisconsin Constitution requires:

The recall petition shall be signed by electors equalling at least twenty-five percent of the vote cast for the office of governor at the last preceding election, in the state, county or district which the incumbent represents

It is not easy to determine how many people this is, but I estimate it to be about 100,000 people total, so 25,000 or so to be 25%. That is probably not grossly wrong. If someone has the exact number please put it in the comments. If the signatures for the petition can be gathered:

The filing officer with whom the recall petition is filed shall call a recall election for the Tuesday of the 6th week after the date of filing the petition or, if that Tuesday is a legal holiday, on the first day after that Tuesday which is not a legal holiday.

So, the total time to get a recall election scheduled is the time to gather the signatures in Wisconsin Senate District 12 plus six weeks. Call it two months or so total if the GOP made a serious effort, which is late April.

Could the GOP get a campaign going in Holperin’s district to recall him, have the election, and get a shenanigan-proof 20 seat guaranteed quorum before Memorial Day?

Am I missing anything here?

(I was at the rally today. Holperin’s name was mentioned as a possible recall target. I wrote this post before I heard that.)

109 thoughts on “Getting to a Wisconsin Senate Quorum”

  1. I still think that Senators who do not show up on legislative days have, by that dereliction of duty, resigned from their offices, and that the Governor has the power, to declare their offices vacant and to issue writs of election. The affected Dems can sue to void the writs, but they will have to come back into the state in order to testify, at which time they can be arrested.

    If I were the Gov, I would serve them notice at their last known address, to be back Tuesday morning or be declared to have resigned.

  2. The problem with declaring offices vacant is that the Democratic Senators have not resigned. Even if this approach is technically okay (which seems doubtful), it has the feel of the thuggish actions of the public employee unions.

    Conservatives can do much better than union goons and sick-out teachers with their fake doctors’ excuses. The recall approach is much more appropriate.

  3. “… the GOP doesn’t have the guts to do that sort of thing.”

    The GOP doesn’t have to do it. Citizens could do it. The Tea Party could do it. A group called could do it. I just made that up. If anybody wants to use it, Godspeed.

  4. Alternatively, if they’re willing to be a little patient, the Republicans can wait it out. The Flee-bagger Democrats are digging their own political graves, and writing ads for their opponents, free of charge. (Would you hire someone to not show up for work? Why should you elect someone who behaves that way?)

    In the meantime, it seems that the Governor is using his executive authority to strip the flee-baggers of their privileges, one by one. Good for him!

    Daniel in Brookline

  5. I agree with M. (at 1102 pm). The Republicans almost never go to the mat like the Dems do, for their respective constituencies.

  6. Preventing a quorum is a legitimate parliamentary tactic. To these legislators, they are not derelict, but giving exemplary service to the constituents who support their view and their ends.

    Instead of being upset, I applaud this use of a technique designed to limit the power of government. That it happens to be employed, in this instance, to prevent something I consider wise and beneficial is a secondary consideration. In a nation of laws, ends are subordinate to means.

    There are work-arounds, and limits on delaying tactics. But the broader ideal is that if the legislature cannot reach a quorum, they can’t hurt anybody. And economic reality will take care of the unions one way or another.

  7. So would the recall election actually constitute an election for a new Senator? Or would it simply be an up/down vote on removing the sitting Senator from office, with another election for a new Senator to follow? If the latter, what would be the minimum possible time between the recall election and the election for the new Senator?

    The interesting bit about the recall is that, presumably, the Senator who is being threatened with the recall would want to campaign to keep his seat. That’s tough to do from out of state…

  8. if no one calls a quoroum, isn’t the meeting allowed to proceed? (robert’s is on my shelf at work, not here.) even if votes taken are later declared out of order, it still can move the process and would be harder to undo after the fact than to wait even for a recall.

    i’m probably missing something.

  9. if no one calls a quorum, isn’t the meeting allowed to proceed? (robert’s is on my shelf at work, not here.) even if votes taken are later declared out of order, it still can move the process and would be harder to undo after the fact than to wait even for a recall.

    i’m probably missing something.

  10. Actually, it appears that the three-fifths requirement is only for fiscally-related bills. (See Wisconsin’s Constitution, Art VIII, Sec 8; Wisc. Legislature’s Joint Rule 11(2)) However, for non-fiscal bills, the quorum is only one-half, which the Republicans could muster on their own. (Wisc. Const. Art IV, Sec 7; Wisc. Leg. Joint Rule 11(1); Wisc. Senate Rule 15.) It doesn’t appear that a stand-alone union reform bill would require the three-fifths majority for a quorum, only a simple majority. The Republicans could, theoretically, pass a stand-alone bill reforming public sector union collective bargaining practices (or simply abolishing public sector unions altogether, if they wanted to play hard ball) without needing a single Democratic senator to show up to constitute a quorum. (At least, according to my reading of the relevant Constitutional provisions and legislative rules.) This would take the issue out-of-play for the Democrats vis the remainder of the budget bill, and could bring them back to the table if the Republicans wanted to play hard ball as well (if I’m reading this correctly).

  11. The GOP may not have the guts, but their is an active Tea party group smack in the middle of the senate district 12. Also, the district is made up of 3 assembly districts, held by Republicans.

  12. Put the senator’s staff employees on unpaid leave, and lock up their offices until they return. Absent senators don’t need offices or a staff.

    Suspend the absent teachers without pay -appropriate discipline for their dereliction of duty.

  13. The purpose of a quorum requirement is to prevent a transient majority from passing legislation while opponents are temporarily absent. The proof that Wisconsin’s 3/5ths rule isn’t supposed to facilitate a quasi-filibuster is the fact that the sergeant-at-arms has the authority to compel lawmakers’ attendance.

    Having said that, let me suggest a simple way to “encourage” the flee-baggers to come back to the state: Eliminate direct deposit of senators’ compensation, and require them to pick up their paychecks personally from the Senate clerk. There must be at least one Wisconsin Democratic state senator who isn’t wealthy enough to live without a regular income.

  14. I think this has been considered but the Governor should declare the offices of the absent Senators closed for business. They are willingly missing so I would inform the staff Tuesday morning they were no longer needed.

    They can report back to work when their employer (the absent Senators) arrive back in office.

  15. “The interesting bit about the recall is that, presumably, the Senator who is being threatened with the recall would want to campaign to keep his seat. That’s tough to do from out of state…”

    Maybe before the Internet, but now?

  16. Foxmarks, your premise that “if the legislature cannot reach a quorum, they can’t hurt anybody” is incorrect because this standoff did not start out in some state of nature. They started out by putting the hurt on the citizens of Wisconsin by giving as much power as they did before they decided on this form of non-participatory democracy. Every day a legislation that seeks to roll back government power and cost is a day during which the hurt continues.

    You’re right that depriving a parliamentary adversary of a quorum is, in theory, a legitimate technique, but taken to an extreme it can hardly be considered either democratic or a bona fide exercise of the duty of the member of a deliberative body who ultimately serves, not his “supporters” or even a given constituency, but the people at large of the state. If it were otherwise, how could anyone criticize pork-barrel politics or other vote-whoring?

    In fact, as to the question of “legitimacy,” here the Wisconsin constitution makes the Democrat senators’ tactic unlawful. That means it’s illegitimate in what you and I call “a nation of laws.” The only reason this “technique” has been effective is that the Democratic senators skeddadled from the jurisdiction — an act that is usually a pretty good tipoff that something is quite illegitimate about either the jurisdiction in question or the party heading for the border.

  17. On of the Chicago Boyz (Thomas Sowell) favorite quotes: “The task of weaning various people and groups from the national nipple will not be easy. The sound of whines, bawls, screams and invective will fill the air as the agony of withdrawal pangs finds voice.”

    –Linda Bowles


  18. It wouldn’t get that far, because Mr. Halperin (or whoever Wisconsinites pick) is not going to take the fall for his comrades. As soon as the signatures start to be collected in earnest, the vulnerable flee-baggers will start to pour in to the Capitol.

  19. Senator Jim Holperin won the 2008 election 43,595 to 41,480. His opponent was one of the current Republican assemblymen contained in the senate district.

  20. If Ryan’s information is correct, and I believe it is, the Republicans have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass any legislation they so desire. Heck, this is a gift, of great magnitude, and the Republicans should be legislating like it’s 1999. The partying can come later, as the Democrats will show up sooner or later. The longer they stay away, the better for Republicans.

  21. In California, the elected official being recalled must be served with an official notice by those conducting the recall, notifying the officeholder of their intentions. If Wisconsin is like this it could create a problem if the Senator is in hiding.

  22. It takes a special set of circumstances to do a successful recall, but sometimes it works. Here in California, our governor in 2003 was the brain-dead Gray Davis. He was so uninspiring that the voter turnout was well below normal for a governor’s race, and then he did all the stupid antics with the manufactured “power crisis”. So a Sacramento radio talk show host started a recall petition (That low voter turnout helped, because it didn’t take many signatures on the recall petition).

    Come the election, there were two elections in one. One, should the governor be recalled?, and two, vote for the new governor. That’s how we got the NEXT brain-dead pretender Arnold Schwarzenegger, “The Governator”. I suppose he was better than Davis, but not by much. And now we have the rerun of Governor Moonbeam, God help us.

    Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie……

  23. The senate district 12 is the NE and north central part of the state. The I read on another blog that the Tea Party Group out of Eagle River, WI is meeting tomorrow to discuss a recall campaign.

  24. And denying a quorum is absolutely *not* a legitimate parliamentary tactic The quorum is meant to stop aggressive or unscrupulous party leaders from sneaking legislation through in secret while a significant portion of the body is absent.

    If there was meant to be a filibuster, there would be a filibuster (does WI have one?), or there would be some history of the quorum’s usage as an obstructive tactic in WI, and the Sergeant at Arms would not have the authority to arrest hiding legislators and bring them to the Capitol.

  25. @foxmarks:

    Thanks for that. I think that the AWOL Dems are playing hardball, entirely their right. While I disagree with the particular issue (public service workers demanding the status quo while the ship is sinking). I agree with your view that economic forces will do the job, it’s just sad that it will have to come to that.

  26. This ‘revolt’ by the Unionistas should get interesting about midnight……




  27. I think all this musing is missing a fundamental issue here…

    What *are* the Republicans doing?

    The Democrats have been out of the state for days now. Surely those, whose sole job is politics, are doing more than spinning in their desk chairs?

  28. In December 1840 Lincoln and a few Whigs tried to run from the Illinois capital building to prevent a quorum from being present to vote on a bill requiring banks to make payments in gold, rather than paper. The Dems blocked the door to keep the Whigs from leaving, so Lincoln and his cronies jumped out the window.

    I’m not supporting the absent Wisconsin senators – just saying Lincoln would have appreciated their strategy, maybe even had a good chuckle over it.

    By the way, the tactic didn’t work for Lincoln and the Whigs, any more than it is likely to work for the Wisconsin Dems. The Dems got their way, but Lincoln apparently viewed creating the absence of a quorum as simply another political tool to be used as a last resort when all else had failed.

  29. I live in Eagle River, WI. Mr. Holperin is our state senator. His brother’s one-man shop is competitor of my business, his shop only a few blocks away. He lived across the street from one of my employees, again only a few blocks away. I last saw him at our town’s business association Christmas dinner.

    Anyways, a recall process is already underway. His district is one of the most conservative there is in our part of the state and I have to think he’s dreading coming home. He likely won only because he is a local son and generally is considered to fit into the value system despite the D after his professional title. I suspect his recent actions will turn whatever support he has up here upside down. That said, it’s winter up here and getting signatures will be difficult. We’re heading into the area’s slow period when many head for warmer climes; the primary industry in tourism and the slowest time of the year is between the end of snowmobile season and the start of tourist season in May. The area shuts down in March & April and already it’s pretty darn quiet in light of the light snow cover, which has brought an early end to snowmobile season. When I hear that 25K signatures are required, my first thought is “Damn, that’s a big number to pull off this time of the year.” Maybe this is possible but it will take a number of months.

    If somehow a lot of the local business and other group networks can engage, where people meet weekly or monthly, this might happen, but I have a hard time believing that even Mr. Holperin’s actions will cause this to happen. Our people may disagree, even strongly, but making such a public display or disaffection is frowned upon, especially for a town son. He’ll show up eventually and it will be a tough reunion. He’ll likely lose next time around. Can’t imagine the pressure he’s under but he’s surely thinking of the storm he’ll be dealing with when he gets home, even if it’s whispered under the breaths of those finishing their lunch or at church service. It might be more successful to target Lassa.

  30. Easier way–strip the fiscal parts out and charge forward with just the labor provisions smaller quorum). Dems would have to scramble home to force vulnerable senators from being able to vote ‘no’ and have it pass 10-9 anyway. While they are at it, may as well get a wish list of anything they ever wanted and run it through too. Concealed carry, voter ID, no domestic partner benefits, etc. There are ways of doing this, and it won’t drag out weeks.

  31. In many bodies, motions such as amendments, tabling, and recommitment may be approved in the absence of a quorum, provided no member then present objects.

  32. Follow the money.

    who is paying their bills? Let’s estimate 100 dollars a night plus 20 for 3 meals, and that means $840 a week. After a few weeks, this tends to be a bit pricey if it is coming out of one’s savings… (one of the hotels listed cost 160 a night, but presumably they got discount rates for business or for being government.)

    Are these people “full time” legislators, or do they have other jobs? One can’t do a lot of work as a lawyer or businessman from 300 miles away, and there might be laws to cut their legislative pay if they refuse to show up. Check it out.

    Then there is the “lysistrata” problem. One blog (sorry don’t have link) says that the Texans who tried this missed their wives after two weeks. That means money for travel and expenses for their spouses or spouse substitutes.

    Finally, sitting in a hotel room is boring. Wonder what their liquor bill will come to…

  33. At some point, these people cease to be Wisconsin residents and therefore cannot be Wisconsin state senators.

    Failing that, the Senate could change their rules, under a chair’s ruling that rule changes do not require a 3/5ths quorum. Sure, this could be contested but the only people who have standing are those 14 Senators who would have to be in the state to contest it.

  34. There’s no doubt in my mind that Big Labor is footing the escape bills for runaway Dems, not to mention the People of Wisconsin as they pay the salaries of these guys (and subsidize their accommodations as well).

  35. Tioedong is on the right track, but grossly underestimates the expenses. No way legislators are staying in $100 hotel rooms and eating on $20 per day.

    But the big question is “WHO is paying for all this?” My guess is the unions are underwriting the bills, and that could constitute an illegal gratuity or contribution.

  36. @Mp, I believe you are correct if they were operating under Roberts, but I read somewhere in the last few days that under Wisconsin Senate rules, each legislative day opens with a quorum call.

  37. There’s actually all sorts of pressure that can be brought to bear. Under current Wisconsin Senate rules, a simple majority is a quorum for changes to the rules of the house, and among the powers of the Senate in the Wisconsin Constitution is to specify by rule the penalties for failing to answer a quorum call.

    Of course, the Republicans would have to choose to bring such pressure to bear.

  38. @KevinM The only thing that requires a quorum of three-fifths in Wisconsin are fiscal bills, as set by the state constitution. Everything else operates under a quorum of a majority, including rules changes.

  39. All I know is that if you are a WI citizen and you have a grievance against one of these guys then now is the time to file suit in civil court. If one of these guys is even in a HOA then you could cause all sorts of mischief. We won’t even mention visitation and custody issues if any are divorced.

    But it is better to let them come back on their own with their tails between their legs.

    Until then just legislate away on non-fiscal issues.

    Oh, and what happens if WI doesn’t have a budget? The irony of the schools being shut down would just be too rich. Of course it is not like they are being used anyway.

  40. I checked the Excel file with all returns from the 2010 election for governor. In the 12th Senate district, a total of approximately 65,000 votes were cast for all candidates.

    You can download the file here.

    Counties in the 12th Senate district are shown on the map here.

  41. My suggestion: start articles of impeachment. They have the majority in the House, and should be able to impeach, then the Senate votes to remove them from office (they only need a simple majority in the Senate for this, which they have now). This will force the Dem runaways to return to Wisconsin to fight the impeachment charges, or be impeached in absentia, in which case they’re out of a job. Someone with a better grasp of Wisconsin law can maybe help me with this question. If removed from office, does the governor have the authority to appoint a replacement senator to take the seat of someone impeached?

    As for some of the comments above on ‘follow the money’ with big labor funding these guys runaway sleepover, wouldn’t it be an ethical violation to take money from an organization when you have senate business directly impacting that organization pending? If they’re taking money from Big Labor then they’re also going to end up impeached (or at least recalled).

    Lastly, where’s Dog the Bounty Hunter? This would end up making a great episode for A&E.

  42. Where’s Dog the Bounty Hunter? Why, he’s here in warm Honolulu. You want the phone number of his shop? It’s Da Kine Bail Bonds on Queen Emma Street, 808-921-2245. LOL!

  43. The Republican leadership of the Wisconsin senate is:
    President of the Senate Michael Ellis, (R)
    President pro tempore Joe Leibham, (R)
    Majority Leader Scott L. Fitzgerald, (R)

    Wisconsin Republicans can ask these guys how they plan to punish the Dems for not showing up for work. The Wisconsin constitution says that their senate and house define their own rules for dealing with failure to show up for work, all that is required is a simple majority. It would be straight forward to define and pass a fine of (for example) $10k/day for not showing up for work such that a quorum cannot be established.

    It may be that these guys are not ready for prime time and need to be pressured to do the right thing. Might be a good idea for the Tea Party to pay a visit to these guys to point them in the right direction. Monitoring Republican politicians is a never ending task.

  44. My two pence: Shove it down the Marxists’ throat, and let them deal with the consequences! No prisoners…none whatsoever. Wisconsin–and the nation–deserve to show these socialist cockroaches exactly what they have wrought upon themselves. the state, and its voters (and their children). Fire ’em all, and let the WI State Police start arresting the derelict Senators and have them face the excoriating fire of impeachment. The state will be better off once the Governor decides that letting them rot in a state jail cell–or on the Senate floor in deserved defeat–will be a much better fate that fiscal calamity for the state.

    But all that may be a bit much for them to swallow in mid-February ’11…PB, Northern Virginia

  45. 15,960 signatures needed on a recall petition for Sen. Holperin. 63,837 ballots cast for governor in the 2010 election in the wards making up Assembly Districts 34, 35, and 36, which together comprise the 12th Senate District. Numbers from the Government Accountability Board.

  46. Let’s see the Wisconsin Senate Sergeant-at-Arms petition the Governor of the state where the flee-baggers are holed up for extradition of the bums back to Wisconsin.

    Or treat ’em like bail jumpers, sic bounty hunters on the bums…

  47. This may fall to “sinking to their level” territory, but why aren’t folks camped out protesting in front of the private homes of the missing Senators. The lefties have recently opened that as a “legitimate” forum for protest…

  48. In industry, we have a thing called job abandonment…after three days of no show with no valid excuse for not appearing…you are terminated.

    Works for me and the wisconsin dem critters…

    fire them…en mass..put their personal effects in boxes and into the dumpster….fire their staffs…..

  49. Suspend the entire compensation package of the missing senators, including their travel expenses and their staffers. After all, don’t these guys always call for shared sacrifice? The last thing the budget can support is deadbeat / absent workers when so many others would step in to do the job.

  50. I fully agree with the recall approach. Yesterday, I suggested the same thing yesterday on American Thinker and Gateway Pundit.

    Two other points to consider: First, Holperin won an open seat on the crest of Obama’s 2008 wave, when many conservatives sat out the contest. His margin was only 51% out of 89,400 votes cast in Senate District 12, a level 5% below Obama’s. These numbers indicate that Holperin’s victory was not a mandate for Unions and trial lawyers. Second, in 2010 democrats lost across the board in Wiscosin. As in other elections across the nation, 2010 was a political sea change. If SD-12 were to vote on Holperin today (which is the idea) he would not prevail.

    I had difficulty determining how many voters in SD-12 voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election, but midterms draw fewer voters than do presidential contests, so 25% of 89,400 is probably high. If true, the number of signatures required may be 22,350.

  51. @TJ Parker. If you think exempting the Fire and Police unions will play poorly in the next election here, how do you think the sick ins are doing in the court of public opinion now? Good luck with the recalls on your end.

  52. Holperin Recall Exploratory Committee: Committee formed to recall Senator Jim Holperin

    Contact: Kim Simac
    Phone: 715-479-8784

    Citizen Leaders Organize to Ask Senator to Come Back to Vote

    EAGLE RIVER, WI — Senator Jim Holperin is hiding out of state to avoid a vote on Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill. Northwood citizens will today complete and file paperwork for an exploratory committee to recall Senator Jim Holperin. “The exploratory committee is taking this action as Senator Holperin has failed to carry out his official duties in the State Senate,” said Kim Simac, leader of the recall exploratory committee “Jim Holperin needs to know that while he is hiding out in Illinois, voters in his district are taking the first steps to remove him from office.”

    Over the weekend the committee will evaluate the resources, time, and manpower required to successfully recall the senator. “Northwoods Patriot groups and other organizations of tea party leaders have proven their ability to mobilize thousands of people quickly and effectively,” said Simac. To recall Senator Jim Holperin, the committee anticipates needing to collect over 15,000 signatures.

    The committee is expected to file the paperwork with the Government Accountability Board by close of business Friday.

  53. Hmmmm. If ANY of the democratic state senators faced a re-election campaign, they’d have a rough time campaigning from Illinois. I mean, aren’t they subject to the state police once they cross over back into Wisconsin?

    I’m just sayin…..

  54. Shut down schools until teachers and/or Senators return to work. If their Doctors permits keep them out too long they can prevent Seniors from graduating.

    That shouldn’t go over too well with some of the electorate.

  55. The 90% of the taxpayers who PAY for the 10% of public union members cush bennies won’t be forgetting anything next election. They won’t forget lying about being sick, canceling school, running away to Illinois, calling the man they voted for Governor Hitler, etc. This is not about busting some unions and not others, this is about what is sustainable in the Obmama economy. Since you libs love to scream about the sacrosanct police and firefighters every time budgets need to be cut, notice how cleverly Walker disarmed you with that exemption. Even Obama fell for it…it just leaps out of every libs mouth, as if the only things that ever cause budget problems are essential emergency workers. It’s a laugh, and will be a cheese-stretched belly laugh come Election Day 2012. Oh, and the Packers are World Champions yet again.

  56. @TJ fair enough on the exemption. That was pretty cynical. I honestly do not know how this will play in 3-5/6 years. If unemployment were @ 5%, or we had a teacher shortage, I’d be more likely to agree with you. I’d also think public opinion would be 50-50 on this if the protests would have happened on non school days. The pure inconvenience of what the school closings have done here did not shift public opinion in the way you assume it will. Some have told me that the inconvenience has proven the point of their importance. That self righteous arrogance is what we see, not the bullying. I had mixed feelings about this in the beginning, but the wildcat strike has swung me to “union busting” camp. It has also solidified in this young person’s mind that my future children will be attending parochial school, whatever the costs.

  57. I just want to thank the commenters and compliment the blog. I rarely see such a large proportion of either on-topic or intelligent comments on a blog. (Actually I read the guidelines after writing that, and now I see this might be moderated– in which case: thanks for keeping out the idiots. You may freely keep this out too if you like, as being off-topic.)

  58. “It has also solidified in this young person’s mind that my future children will be attending parochial school, whatever the costs.” I have made many sacrifices to do this. There are many, many advantages to having your child in the parochial schools and so far my experince is all good. Last week it was all business as usual for my family. I like it that way.

  59. Eric – comments are typically not moderated, but obscene/stupid ones are deleted at the whim of the author of that particular post. In general, it is a well behaved group, even when in disagreement.

  60. I hear you Dan. My wife and I attended private high schools in the late 90s, and my appreciation for the heavy financial burden this put on our lower middle income parents has gone up 100 fold in the past week.

  61. I’m a retired military officer, a retired aerospace & defense executive and a retired consultant. I pay my own health insurance and buy for my own lunch. I have college degrees and speak three languages. Routinely, I teach in the public schools for free (albeit under the watchful eye of an education major). Certainly there are people like me who would be glad to help educate K-12 if the teachers are unwilling to come to work. Just ask!

  62. I went to parochial school in Wisconsin the ’70’s. When we got to the public high school, we were essentially sophomores… we were THAT far ahead of the public school kids. In our graduating class four ears later, the valedictorian and salutatorian were Catholic schoolers.

  63. “# Chuck Says:
    February 20th, 2011 at 12:05 am

    This ‘revolt’ by the Unionistas should get interesting about midnight……




    He is right

  64. While I’d heard of this blog before, I never perused it. I’ve had a ball reading these comments. Sadly, I suspect that the WI Repubs aren’t strategizing like this at all. Maybe some of you in their districts could send them a link!

  65. Comparing the protesters who believe they have been “Taxed Enough Already” (TEA) to union thugs who threaten physical violence to achieve a policy the voters clearly oppose is not the same. Calling Obama a socialist because he nationalized auto industries, seized insurance companies, has taken over the banks and passed ObamaCare is not the same as accusing a governor who is trying to balance his state’s budget – a constitutional requirement – of being a NAZI.

  66. That is just absurd. Have you even been inside a parochial school? 2nd rate? please. Your attempt at a snarky retort was a wild fail.

  67. BTW, all my typos in the above posts are the moral equivalence of sticky laptop keys and a Steve Jobs Conspiracy…or something.

  68. If these highly paid, under qualified political hacks posing as educators are willing to participate in a campaign threatening physical violence they should take a vacation day. Calling in sick is fundamentally dishonest.

    Also, we should stop hiring teachers with education degrees. There is truth in the saying, “Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach.”

  69. An excellent time, I believe to draft and pass a VOUCHER bill. Point to the difficulties in educating the children in Madison and Milwaukee—it’s always ‘for the children’ for the unionistas, so why not turn their own weapon upon them?—and draft an ’emergency’ voucher program, renewable at annual intervals.
    Several commenters have made excellent points, all centering around the golden opportunity that this public sector union overreach presents. Whether changing the quorum rules, holding paychecks to be picked up in person, recalls, vouchers—-all can be achieved with tools readily at hand.
    Every site that I’ve visited (except of course CBS News, CNN, etc: but I don’t watch them) is rife with overwhelming support for Gov Walker et al. People are sick and tired of a public sector that has insulated itself from the realities of the world. THESE are the people I want teaching my kids?
    The union reps and the Democratic legislators have, I believe recognized that they have little leverage and very little public support. Now, suddenly they’re willing to negotiate, and ‘accepted’ the financial cuts. My favorite is their insistence that their stance has not changed: this is “what they’d said all along”. Nonsense. They are used to having and eating their cake. No more cake, sport: party’s over.
    You go, Governor. Take this opportunity for the nation at large and run with it.

  70. Sitting here in Hoosierland, I’m watching the developments in Wisconsin with great interest. I believe many others across the country are also engrossed in the situation because of what the results will portend for the future clashes in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and, yes, Indiana.

    Do public sector unions control the statehouses or do the voters? Madison is, in my opinion, the major battle in what I believe will be a protacted war. (Forgive me the militant references; I trust they cause no one to go postal.)

    PS: Seldom have I been to a site and seen such civilized commentary from folks who are obviously polar opposites politically. Well done!

  71. Strategy:

    1) A Republican Senator introduces legislation to outlaw public sector unions.
    2) The Senate places it on the agenda immediately following the current bill.
    3) 49% of the Republican Senators declare their opposition to the bill

    This sets up the situation that come Tuesday, when the Senate convenes, they will either have a 2/3rds quorum, or a 1/2+1 quorum. If one Democrat shows up, they have a 2/3rds quorum, pass the first bill, and table the second legislation. If no Democrats show up, they have a 50%+1 quorum, table the legislation in question, and pass the second legislation outlawing public sector unions by one vote.

    This makes every Democratic Senator who fails to show up personally responsible for outlawing public sector unions.

  72. A bunch of tax-paid people walk off their tax-paid jobs to demand more money from taxpayers, and that might play badly with . . . taxpayers?

    With thanks to Joe F.

  73. In 7 days, I won’t have to worry about this. I just hope for you in surrounding states, that you are watching this closely. This shite is heading your way.

  74. I know many teachers and those that want money make it. Things may be different in your part of the country but 30 years of teaching has given these hardworking guys $50,000+ per year with time for $25-$30 grand side jobs, good pensions, good health care, and work time that amounts to about 66% of those in the private employees if they aren’t involved in the side jobs.

    It’s appalling to think about but, somewhat tangentially, that (teacher’s salaries and benefits) really doesn’t account for the (almost) $20,000 per year per child that the taxpayers in southwest Florida pay to educate the youngsters.

  75. “Fire the lot!”

    I’m okay with that; they have certainly been unethical to dishonest and the schools have grounds.

    If more money would improve performance of public school students, they would all be able to read, write and balance a checkbook. Funding for education has been increasing at double the rate of inflation for a decade and their product is far worse than it was in the 1960s. Not all of this is the fault of the schools. Children are not taught self discipline, responsibility or common respect for others.

    The national average for K-12 education tops $12,000 per year, unless the student is a non-English speaker, in which case it climbs another $1,200. Public schools get land and building rent free and pay no property or corporate tax. Do not think for a second that a private company could not hire teachers and make a profit for far less. BTW, the Department of Education contribution is only 8%.

    The problem is not money; it’s the union. They do not give a rip about teachers or students or education. They want the dues.

  76. A couple of points here.

    One, recalls cost money. A lot of money. You don’t get to agree with Walker and say the state is broke, then turn around and demand the state throw money away on a political stunt that’s almost certain to fail.

    Two, it didn’t take long for the right to go from “Liberals are trying to undo the elections!” to “We have to undo the elections!” Pick a belief and stick with it, instead of going with whatever PR message works for you at the moment.

    [1. The Constitutional provision is clear. Apply it if it applies.

    2. The Donk senators have fled the state. No violation of principles is implicated.

    — Lex]

  77. Money is a motivation. It is not the only motivation. People’s choice of workplace also reflects values. I offer the works of Tom Peters [In Search of Excellence, A Passion for Excellence etc.]. I think that you will find a number of people, frequently the best people, who have worked somewhere for less money than possible elsewhere because they preferred the place and people. I offer our armed forces as an example.

    Let me offer an anecdote. The plural of anecdote is not proof, but they can be pointers for further fruitful investigation.

    I live in a small town in the Colorado mountains. Our school district has a slightly higher graduation rate than the state average, but the place is far from an academic powerhouse. To be honest, football and auto shop are the primary priorities of our administration. My kids are college graduates, or students; honor students. They got an education despite our school district and not because of it.

    When Charter Schools started being founded, our school district panicked. They established an “Exploratory School” in an abandoned 1800’s school building, which was kind of a school outside the normal Union/Administration rules. It was excellent. But, it was not enough. Parents established a “Core Knowledge School” as a Charter. It started as K-3, and added a grade every year until it was K-10. They return to the regular high school to finish.

    As a Charter School, they get 2/3 of the money that regular schools get. But they are not covered by the Union/Administration BS. They bought and built their own school. When they opened, the best and brightest teachers in our school district competed for jobs there. These are teachers who our community knew and respected. They competed for jobs that paid significantly less; because they were allowed to teach as their primary concern.

    We have state standardized tests at every grade level. Like most public school systems, ours has less than stunning scores. At the Core Knowledge School, every one of the 300 or so kids through all of those grade levels reads, does math, knows English, history, etc. at or usually far above grade level. When those kids hit the high school; they academically kick butt and take names.

    And no, my kids did not go there. As they were adding grades, my kids were always a year ahead of where they were. I wish they could have. The Exploratory School, by the way, was converted back to a very, very small elementary school that has the highest administrator to student ratio in the district. Not good.

    Oh, and I have volunteer-taught history in our district, and at the high school in the next district over.

    Excellence is possible in education. It is almost impossible in a highly unionized and bureaucratized [the two go hand in hand] environment. The best that they can hope for is bare adequacy.

    I will offer a marker. If a school district has more than 25% of its employees in non-teaching positions; it is in trouble. If it has more than 35%, it has failed. If it has over 50% it is hopeless. When I left Denver in 1980, Denver Public Schools had 52% of their staff in non-teaching positions. I suspect that Madison, et. al. are not far from Denver if not worse. Money spent on overhead does not help teach kids.


    Subotai Bahadur

  78. A long overdue vacation for me. That is all. I highly doubt that Wisconsin will be on the telly in the Mexican Rivera. I also think that 7 days is about the time that the public opinion fallout will come crashing down on our missing senators. They are lucky that our weather came early, or a legitimate snow day loomed for tomorrow. If the weather forces more time off of school, or if the sick outs continue, it will be the parent’s rage that will get these people home, and the teachers back in the classroom. I cannot see any way that public opinion for the protesters can stay even at current levels if they try to continue these rolling sick outs. I, of course, may be wrong, but if this goes longer than a week without resolution, we got big problems. They are out of cards, and we are out of patience.

  79. Letting the Dem Senators show that they are dead weight might be the best way to resolve this, as long as Walker retains the large majority of the voters’ support, as JSentinel polling indicates he is doing.

    However, the district in which Holperin was elected might be heartily fed up with his antics and the recall option should be run up the flagpole to see how many people instantly salute. And then, go on from there.

  80. I wanted to go ahead and do the specific math and show you why the recall election petition for district 12 would be closer to 16,000 than 25,000.

    Wisconsin Senate District 12 is comprised of assembly district 34, 35 and 36. Assuming that 25% of that senate district that voted for governor comes from the 2010 numbers, those three districts would have 24552(AD34), 20366(AD35), and 18910(AD36) voting in 2010 for their assembly district. The total being 63,828 people voting within the 12th district and a probable estimate to how many people also voted for the governor. Assuming 25% of this, 15,957 people would be required to sign the petition, about 16,000 people.

    Assuming 5,687,000 population number divided by 33 senate seats, means that there is approximately 172,000 people in that district. According to the census data, about 25%(23.2 actual)of the population is under 18 meaning 75% is 18 or older. 75% of 172,000 population gives you 129,000 people, the total number of people of age that can sign the petition.

    In summary, 16,000 out of 129,000 is about 12.5% of the eligible population is need to recall district 12. A minor challenge if you can get the most politically active people of the republican party in that area to sign a petition.

    (I wrote this just to give a better estimate of how many people were needed and the total people that could sign the petition. I realize some of my numbers will vary, but I think that it all evens out.)
    Maps of Wisconsin assembly districts and senate districts

  81. I just want to add my thanks for such an intelligent and interesting thread. I spent all of Sunday reading the Senate rules, and finding this thread helped me understand them much better. I’m proud that as Americans we can still debate and learn from each other.

    Aric, a previous poster mentioned that Holperin beat Tiffany 43,595 to 41,480. I think that means we need at least 21,269 signatures to force a recall — 25% of the number who voted in the last election (not 25% of the population). Right?

  82. IANAL, but attending a mandatory meeting seems to me to fit the definition of ministerial act, so a writ of mandamus could be obtained. Continuing to stay out of the state then becomes disobeying or fleeing a court order. In addition to felony charges, that makes the offending senators liable to expulsion by the senate, which would only take a simple majority to provide a quorum.

    Impeachment is another possibility, as is recall. But they’d both take longer.

  83. The 3/5 is just for financial bills. The Repubs should start passing all of there non-financial bills.

    Once there have exhausted those here should be the plan:

    1) Senate censures their missing members.
    2) Assembly starts impeachment and passes it to Senate for trial
    3) The missing Dems now face a trap. If they stay away, they get impeached. They can return to the senate to vote no on their own impeachment, but then they can be compelled to remain present for quorum calls.

  84. You can be pretty sure that there will be recall petitions for Republican Senator’s also :) Have a nice day!

  85. “Have a nice day!”

    The Constitutional provision is very simple.

    If the Ds can successfully recall one or more of the Republicans, using the available law, they are free to do so.

    If the voters decide to turn against the Republicans they just elected, they are free to do so. My gut tells me they won’t. I have no facts about how the public in Wisconsin is responding to all this.

    If someone has good poll numbers, I want to see it.

  86. Lex: I think that the Teachers Union has apparently asked all of its members to go back to work, and the unions new ploy is: “We will accept the financial terms that Governor Walker has asked for can’t we pretty please negotiate something else on the other issues”, both confirm that the wind is blowing against them.

  87. I believe that a recall of one of the absent senators could be possible.

    The teachers union is overestimating their public support. No parent is ever going to speak out publicly against the union for fear of jeopardizing their child’s academic future. So much of grading schoolwork is subjective that a student could easily be penalized for having anti-union parents. In the voting booth things might well be very different.

  88. I do not have the creativity to dream a charicature such as “JMS” who posted on February 20th, 2011 at 1:15 pm.

    When I repost his contribution on Facebook I will not discourage others from appling his logical agruement and concluding that these commenters are responsible.

    We usually assume our political opponents are well meaning people with an alternative plan for implementing something good for the People. Posts like that make it hard.

  89. Where are all of the decent people in the State of Wisconsin? Ae they not aware that nothing will be done for their state as long as there is no quorum for a vote? Are they all union members? You would think they would be out protesting the absent-14, unless the stench is so bad in the streets of Madison from the rabble that has been there for the last 3 weeks. This rabble-group was obviously bussed in from other states by the union bosses just so it would appear that the people of Madison are so uncaring that nothing phases them. Can’t you imagine having a meeting with the king from the White House in the state capitol building? Bet the rabble would then move their sorry rears out so their “man” could go in and maybe dd to the stench.

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