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With battle lost in Madison, ‘tractorcade’ resumes the war

MORNING EDITION ALSO: Another developer takes a hit; lawyer vs. cop; Hamline prof rips Dems; in defense of the Koch Brothers … and of Target.
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With Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker expected to sign his intensely controversial bill soon, the one stripping away public employee collective bargaining, he has clearly won the battle. But the war appears to have just begun. Bill Chappel, on NPR’s “The Two Way” blog, writes: “ [E]arly Thursday morning, Republican state senators used a procedural rule to put the measure to a vote — by removing the bill’s budgetary language. An observer could be forgiven for not seeing how negotiations between the state and its employees could fail to be a financial issue — especially an observer who had read a release from the governor’s office Monday titled Collective Bargaining is a Fiscal Issue Part 3.” But not everyone’s cut out to be in politics. …The Wisconsin Capitol may see more excitement Saturday, when it faces a Day of Tractors — or, more accurately, a tractorcade. The event is sponsored by farmers who want to protest Gov. Walker’s budget, as well as his move to limit collective bargaining rights in the state.”

Dee J. Hall of the Wisconsin State Journal asks the obvious question, “How can a bill filled with dollar signs not be considered a ‘fiscal’ measure?”

Hall follows with another story, this one about legal challenges already filed against the law: “Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, and Wisconsin State Employees Union executive director Marty Beil filed complaints Thursday alleging that the votes were taken illegally with too little notice to the public, many of whom were unable to get into the Capitol on Wednesday night to attend the meetings.”

Justin Williams of Fox6 in Milwaukee files on Walker’s statements regarding the “non-fiscal” nature of the bill: “The day after the State Senate Republicans voted to approve the Governor’s proposed bill without Democrats, Walker defends the tactics of Senate Republicans. He also explained the bill, while fiscal, did not include appropriations which would have required a quorum. Walker says, ‘This was a way to pass it intact, and still complete with the constitutional mandate.’ ” Spoken like a trained lawyer.

The New York Times covers the episode, with Monica Davey and A.G. Sulzberger writing: “Scott Walker won his battle on Thursday to cut bargaining rights for most government workers in Wisconsin. But his victory, after the State Assembly passed the bill, also carries risks for the state’s Republicans who swept into power last November. Democratic-leaning voters appeared energized by the battle over collective bargaining on a national stage. The fight has already spurred a list of potential recall elections for state lawmakers this spring. Protesters are planning more large demonstrations this weekend. ‘From a policy perspective, this is terrible,’ said Mike Tate, the leader of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. ‘But from a political perspective, he could not have handed us a bigger gift,’ Mr. Tate said of the governor. In the last 24 hours, he added, the state party had received $360,000 in contributions and volunteers have streamed into offices where signatures were being collected for recall bids.” $360K is barely lunch tip for the Koch brothers.

Another once high-rolling developer has taken a hit, again. Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib reports: “The Boatworks Building, home to the upscale NorthCoast restaurant on Lake Minnetonka, is headed into foreclosure. The downtown Wayzata office building is scheduled to be auctioned off at a Hennepin County sheriff’s sale May 6 with about $30 million owed on the mortgage … It’s the latest building owned by Wayzata property investor M.G. Kaminski to fall on hard times after the commercial real estate crash. A large piece of Pentagon Park, an office park in Edina with multiple buildings that Kaminski once owned and planned to redevelop, went into foreclosure last year. … Kaminski said he’s owned the building for about 10 years and continues to manage it. He blamed the economy for his trouble with the mortgage. ‘The rents in Wayzata aren’t what they used to be, or not even close, and property taxes are ridiculous. …‘The rest of my portfolio is in great shape,’ he said. ‘This is my last problem child.’ ” Another example of who needs tax breaks most.

It’s a variation on the always-obnoxious “Do you know who I am!” threat. Emily Gurnon of the PiPress writes about a St. Paul attorney apparently just a little too caught up in her attorney-ness: “According to the criminal complaint, filed in Ramsey County District Court: ‘A man called police about 11:15 p.m. Jan. 16 to report that he was at a window seat in Sweeney’s on Dale Street when he saw someone’s car run into his vehicle, parked in the lot. He went outside to talk to the driver, who was not cooperative, he said. ‘I’m a lawyer. You can’t prove I was driving,’ the man quoted [Rachel] Toberman as saying. She went inside the bar. … An officer approached Toberman and asked her to step outside to talk about the collision. She refused, and pushed on his chest, the complaint said. The officer told her if she did that again, she would be arrested. … The officer took Toberman to the ground and handcuffed her while she ‘continued to resist and used profane language and personal derogatory remarks toward the officer,’ the complaint said.”

Hamline prof David Schultz has been watching events here and in Wisconsin and D.C. and has nothing good to say about Democrats: “Think about events in the last couple of weeks. The fiscal forecast for Minnesota drops the state budget deficit from $6.2 billion to $5 billion and what happens? Dayton drops his call for a one time special tax on millionaires and the GOP thumbs its nose at the rest of Dayton’s tax proposals. In Congress, the Democrats are ready to fold on budget cuts. In Wisconsin the GOP votes to gut the collective bargain rights of unions and Democrats look powerless. On top of all this where is Obama? He seems ready to offer compromise on health care, he seems unwilling to fight for union rights, he does not draw a line in the sand over the budget. Instead, he seems almost irrelevant to the events going on around the country. On top of which, he seems paralyzed by what to do in Libya. Yet again I see a pattern. Republicans attack, make demands, and Democrats sit back and take it. There is a partisan fight in American but only one party is fighting.”

Meanwhile, the always-entertaining John Hinderaker at Powerline is … outraged at the media’s obsession with the Koch brothers: “[T]he Capital Times immediately gets to the good stuff:

Shaw also has some ties to Koch Industries, the Wichita, Kan., firm that has been a big booster of embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But there is no indication that Koch Industries would profit from the deal.

“This drive-by reference is the only time Koch Industries is mentioned in the Capital Times article. Which makes sense: Koch has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Shaw won the contract; there is no suggestion that Koch bid on it or has anything whatsoever to do with it. So why is the Capital Times gratuitously dragging Koch into the story? The only possible answer is that the Left is obsessed with Koch Industries. It is an article of faith that everything that happens somehow relates to Koch … only a week or so ago, just about every liberal in America, from Paul Krugman on up, was peddling the silly claim that Governor Scott Walker’s budget was a clever ruse to enrich Koch Industries by selling the state’s heating and cooling plants to that company, cheap. Never mind, as we noted here, that the plants are unprofitable dogs that may have negative value, that Koch is not in the business of owning or running such plants, that the state will be lucky to find someone on whom to foist the creaky properties, or that Koch has publicly stated that it has no interest in them whatsoever.” So in other words … the brothers would be doing Wisconsin a favor if they took those unprofitable dogs off taxpayers’ hands?

Finally, the kids at Fraters Libertas (they like nom de blogs, so I’m never sure who is writing what) rally to Target’s defense in the break-up with Lady Gaga: “Regarding the strange bedfellowship between Target and Lady Gaga discussed last week, looks like it was more of a one night stand than an enduring domestic partnership. Initially, Gaga was touting her success in opening Target’s mind and coffers to the wonders of gay causes. But now it looks like Target was just leading her on. … Target may have come out of the politically correct daze they’ve been in since getting sucker punched during the election for the crime of donating money to a Republican. Good for them for finally showing some spine and not getting completely rolled. Whether they’ve got the corporate courage to once again put their money behind their belief system (as with Emmer) remains to be seen.”