Well, by now you have read the news about the vote taken in the wee hours of the morning today in Wisconsin; a fitting twisted ending to a despicably twisted bill.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know Democrats have been using delay tactics to try to put off this vote, and we knew that the three days of filibustering they engaged in to try to continue to delay the vote would eventually prove to be ineffective. But I was truly hoping that cooler heads would prevail during this delay; that Governor Scott Walker and his Republican cohorts would be moved by all of the protests they have listened to for days both in their state and in others around our nation who are calling for an anti-union bill, and they might tweak this bill enough that it would be more palpable for those of us who are in the public sector.
Perhaps a compromise to increase our pension and health care contributions while maintaining our rights to collective bargaining would have been better received. How about a promise to delay the vote until a real plan was in place addressing how the void created by the loss of collective bargaining will be filled; how salaries will be both effected and determined, what will be the new guidelines for evaluation and will those guidelines be solely based on state test scores and a value-added model, how will reduction in force be handled, and the myriad questions and concerns those of us in education are experiencing right now? Having the plan in place before the vote was taken might have calmed our fears or at least given us a clearer picture of what lies ahead and how this legislation will affect us personally.
So, with all of the tension, fears, and drama, to read the actual account describing how the vote was taken in Wisconsin just adds to my outrage, and I’m sure to the outrage of others as well.
Here is how Julie Kent of ClevelandLeader described it: “Just after 1 am, Republicans cut off debate on the financial bill, and quickly called for a vote. In the confusion, approximately one-third of the lawmakers, including 25 Democrats, two Republicans and one independent, did not get a chance to vote on the bill at all. Democrats reportedly “exploded” in furor when they realized that the vote had been open only for just a few moments. Nevertheless, it passed 51-17. The debates over Walker’s bill had gone on for 60 hours, and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote began. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, a Republican, opened the roll and closed it within seconds. Only 13 of the 38 Democrats managed to vote in time.”
Clearly the Republican representatives were anxious to get on with the vote now that the Democrats were in the room, and I am sure they were sick of listening to the Democrats drone on and on in an obvious attempt to disrupt the voting. But Republicans obviously had the majority here and should have been able to pass this bill once the voting was announced. For decency’s sake, give everyone a chance to go on record with their vote rather than cramming it down everyone’s throat.
This was nothing less than railroading, which sends a clear warning to those of us in the public sector of how we will be treated in this unfair and unreasonable political arena in which we have become the sacrificial lambs on the altar of the national debt.
Now, we lambs wait nervously and anxiously for this legislation to go to Wisconsin’s senate for a vote; another uphill climb for Republicans as the Democratic senators are holed up in Illinois in the Democrats’ continued attempt to squash this bill.