Worker Uprising Update: Walker Says He'll Issue Layoff Notices Today if "WI 14" Don't Return; Capitol Building Cleared of Demonstrators; Administration Could Be in Contempt of Court
Update: The recall effort started by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America earlier this week is continuing to gain steam. According to PCCC, the groups have raised $410,000 from 18,600 donors in two days for the a new TV ad pressuring Walker and the WI GOP. "Fueled by grassroots fundraising, we are expanding our ad big time in Wisconsin next week -- new markets, new stations, new days. Walker and the Republican Party's poll numbers are already in the tank as a result of their class warfare against working families, and we're going to make them plummet even more until Republicans cave or get recalled from office," said PCCC co-founder Adam Green in a statement. According to FireDogLake, the state's Democratic party has also launched a website aimed at recalling key Republican legislators.
Update: According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "County Circuit Judge John Albert issued an interim order calling for the immediate removal of overnight demonstrators and putting state officials on notice that improved access to the building has to be in place by Monday morning." The last of the demonstrators had vacated the capitol building by about 10:00 last night, "[w]ith a final group hug and a rousing rendition of 'Solidarity Forever.'"
Meanwhile, layoff notices for 1,500 state workers are supposed to go out today, if the "Wisconsin 14" -- the state legislators who fled the state in protest of Walker's anti-worker campaign -- don't return. The Democrats have been found in contempt by Walker and the state's GOP senators. Walker has also ordered law enforcement to "detain Democrats and bring them to the Senate chambers," which is actually prohibited under the state constitution.
Original post: The standoff continues in Wisconsin as Governor Scott Walker ratchets up the pressure on the 14 Dems who fled the state to block his union-busting measure, and continues to limit the public's access to the capitol -- a right that's guaranteed under the state's Constitution.
A judge has issued a restraining order ordering the building opened, but so far Walker has refused to honor it. PR Watch is blogging additional hearings on the matter here.
There are unconfirmed rumors flying around that a judge has found the state to be in contempt of court for not honoring the earlier order. We've seen no credible reports to substantiate the claim, but an ACLU attorney explained to the Capital Times that an argument could be made for the finding.
How tight is the security surrounding the building? The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that "Security is so restrictive at the state Capitol that firefighters were denied access to the building during an emergency call Tuesday, one of the firefighters said Thursday."
Dave Trainor, a Madison firefighter, said he was part of a crew dispatched to the Capitol on a call that someone was trapped in an elevator. Firefighters were denied access at one of the building's entrances that is being guarded by police.
Firefighters then had to make their way through a crowd of protesters outside the building and drive their 100-foot ladder truck to the other side of the Capitol to get inside.
As it turned out, a police officer was trapped in an elevator. But at the time of the call, firefighters did not know if there was a medical emergency, Trainor said.
"We lost crucial time on a call we didn't know anything about," he said.
Among protesters at the Capitol have been firefighters in their gear. But Trainor said he did not believe police officers would have mistaken the crew for protesters because they were hauling equipment, carrying radios and had arrived in a firetruck.
"They don't just let us drive those up to the Capitol for fun," he said.
David Obey, D-Wisconsin, a veteran law-maker who has represented the state in congress for decades and served in the state house before that, also had trouble getting in. Video of his attempts is here.
On the political side, Mary Bottari reports that the "Republican leadership turned up the heat on the missing 14 Wisconsin democratic legislators with an unprecedented series of new actions and rules that may be unconstitutional."
A resolution Thursday by all 19 Republicans authorizes that Senate Democrats to be taken into custody for being in "contempt of the Senate," and issued a deadline of 4:00 p.m. CST.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the actions were justified because the 14 "have pushed us to the edge of a constitutional crisis." However, the Wisconsin Constitution only allows lawmakers to be arrested during the session for "treason, felony and breach of peace."
And, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Scott Walker said he will start sending out layoff notices to state unions and workers by the end of Friday if the standoff over his budget-repair bill isn't resolved."