Will Republicans act to remove Shirley Abrahamson from WI Supreme Court through mandatory retirement age legislation?

It looks like Republicans in the Legislature, not content to try and beat Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson in an election, want to force her out of office by implementing a mandatory retirement age for Justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The legislative session that convenes in January could be the beginning of the end for state Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

Republicans who control the Legislature are considering one measure that could push her out as chief justice and another that would set a retirement age for judges that could remove her from the court entirely.

The proponents of making changes for the court say their plans aren’t aimed specifically at Abrahamson, the court’s leading liberal. The proposed retirement age — which could be 75 — also could push conservatives off the bench in the coming years.

Abrahamson and another justice questioned the wisdom of making changes that affect judges and justices for their existing terms, given that there were no restrictions in place when they were last elected.

Ferguson prosecutor admits he presented evidence he knew to be false to Ferguson grand jury

Ferguson prosecutor Bob McCulloch admitted that he presented evidence he knew to be false to the grand jury considering charges against Darren Wilson. In an interview with radio station KTRS on Friday, McCulloch said that he decided to present witnesses that were “clearly not telling the truth” to the grand jury. Specifically, McCulloch acknowledged he permitted a woman who “clearly wasn’t present when this occurred” to testify as an eyewitness to the grand jury for several hours. The woman, Sandra McElroy, testified that Michael Brown charged at Wilson “like a football player, head down,” supporting Wilson’s claim that he killed Brown in self-defense.

McElroy, according to a detailed investigation by The Smoking Gun, suffers from bipolar disorder but is not receiving treatment and has a history of making racist remarks. In a journal entry, McElroy wrote that she was visiting Ferguson on the day of Michael Brown’s death because she wanted to “stop calling Blacks N****** and Start calling them people.” McElroy also has had trouble with her memory since being thrown through a windshield in a 2001 auto accident.

You can listen

Gunman kills two New York Police officers

This is a terrible tragedy.

Two uniformed New York City police officers were gunned down Saturday afternoon while they sat in a marked police car by a gunman authorities say was seeking revenge.

Officer Wenjian Liu, 32 and Rafael Ramos, 40, were fatally shot by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, who had announced online he was planning to shoot two “pigs” in retaliation for the death of Eric Garner, who died in a chokehold by police, according to AP reports.

Brinsley approached the passenger window of the officers’ police car, parked in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn and opened fire, striking both officers in the head, according to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

No matter how anyone feels about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police officers, violence against police officers is absolutely unacceptable and does nothing to work towards a solution to the larger issue.

Why An Anti-Unionist Would Want A Job In A Union Shop

In the continued discussion around the Right to Freeload bill expected to come up for discussion in Madison this January, when the topic of worker freedom gets bandied about…no one from the right ever seems to suggest that an anti-union employee has the right to find a job in a non-union shop…and there are more non-union shops in Wisconsin than union shops.

And can you guess why? It’s because they KNOW that union shops provide better wages, better benefits, better working conditions and safer working conditions…they’d just rather be takers and not earn their rights to better conditions.

NRLB Calls Shenanigans On McDonald’s

On Friday, the National Labor Relations Board handed unions and the American workforce a major victory in declaring McDonald’s corporation as a ‘joint employer’ with it’s 14,000 US franchises of the fast food workers at all of their stores. This effectively puts McDonald’s on the hook with the franchise when the franchise is accused of labor violations.

Some of the labor violations include punishing workers for participating in union and other legally protected labor activities. The NRLB claims to have found 86 such cases and have included McDonald’s because of the influence the corporation holds over the franchises operations via their franchise agreements.

Needless to say McDonald’s denies the charges and disputes the NRLB’s over reach in the matter…since it strikes at the heart of franchise systems in general and McDonald’s in particular. McDonald’s contends that is the target of a union financed campaign and it’s business is under attack.

The NLRB plans to hold hearings in March of 2015!

The National Labor Relations Board on Friday designated McDonald’s Corp. as a “joint-employer” with franchisees at nearly 14,000 U.S. restaurants, delivering a big win to unions.

The board’s general counsel’s office ruled that the company violated the rights of employees openly seeking better pay and working conditions. Hearings are set for March on whether to pursue disciplinary steps.

In a statement, McDonald’s called the move an “overreach” and vowed to contest it. The company said it has been the target of a union-financed campaign and is only defending itself against an attack on its business.

The NLRB said it has found 86 cases in which the company’s unlawful conduct included sanctions against workers who had sought job improvements, including by participating in nationwide fast food worker protests.

Violations included firings, reduced hours, threats, surveillance and discriminatory discipline against workers who engaged in union or other legally protected activity, the board said.

The NLRB is a federal agency that resolves employee-management disputes in the private sector. It disclosed in July it had received 181 complaints against McDonald’s and its franchisees since November 2012.

The agency contends the company and its franchisees are joint employers of the fast-food workers. McDonald’s denies that claim.

The company wields such extensive influence over the business operations of its franchisees that it effectively is the top boss, the NLRB said.

Day Late Thursday Music: Michael Franti – Same As It Ever Was ( Start Today )

This is fantastic. What a song and video.

State’s costs could exceed tax collections by $1 billion over two years

But remember, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican rubber stamp legislature are fiscally responsible!

Over the next two years, the state’s costs to keep up its current services will outstrip its expected tax collections by more than $1 billion, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office.

The brief analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau provides the sharpest picture yet of the challenge that Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers face as they try to keep the state’s main account balanced while weighing competing concerns such as schools, health care and the pocketbooks of taxpayers.

It projects a shortfall of $619 million in the first year of the budget. If addressed right away through permanent spending cuts or tax increases, the problem would be largely solved.

But if not, it would grow to $824 million in the second year for a two-year total of $1.44 billion, or 4.4% of the state’s total spending.

A Cop Who Gets It

Richmond California Police Chief Chris Magnus drew the ire of his police union recently when he joined a rally in protest of the New York City grand jury decision to not indict the officer who killed Eric Garner and held a sign that read ” Black Lives Matter “.

Magnus was featured recently in an article in Yes Magazine by long time labor organizer and writer Steve Early which describes the  incredible turnaround Magnus has been able to effect in  Richmond, with both violent crime rates and  police shootings of citizens down dramatically since he became Chief of Police in 2005.

Magnus’ response to a suggestion that holding the sign was  controversial is priceless:

“I looked at it for a minute and realized this is actually pretty innocuous,” Magnus said. “That ‘black lives matter’ is something that I would think that we should all be able to agree upon. All lives matter.”

Charting a New Course on Cuba

From the email today:

Yesterday, after more than 50 years, we began to change America’s relationship with the people of Cuba.

We are recognizing the struggle and sacrifice of the Cuban people, both in the U.S. and in Cuba, and ending an outdated approach that has failed to advance U.S. interests for decades. In doing so, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.

I was born in 1961, just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just as the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with that country.

Our complicated relationship with this nation played out over the course of my lifetime — against the backdrop of the Cold War, with our steadfast opposition to communism in the foreground. Year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between us.

That previous approach failed to promote change, and it’s failed to empower or engage the Cuban people. It’s time to cut loose the shackles of the past and reach for a new and better future with this country.

I want you to know exactly what our new approach will mean.

First, I have instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations that have been severed since 1961. Going forward, we will re-establish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will once again visit Cuba.

Second, I have also instructed Secretary Kerry to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism — a review guided by the facts and the law. At a time when we are focused on threats from ISIL and al Qaeda, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces terrorism should not face such a sanction.

Third, we’ll take steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to — and from — Cuba. These steps will make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba. They will make it easier for Americans to conduct authorized trade with Cuba, including exports of food, medicine, and medical products to Cuba. And they will facilitate increased telecommunications connections between our two countries: American businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries.

Learn more about the steps we’re taking to change our policy.

These changes don’t constitute a reward or a concession to Cuba. We are making them because it will spur change among the people of Cuba, and that is our main objective.

Change is hard — especially so when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders.

Our country is cutting that burden loose to reach for a better future.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Jessica McBride On What’s Wrong With Right To Work

(Yes that Jessica McBride)…in a blog piece for OnMilwaukee.com, Jessica McBride opines on all of the things that Governor Scott Walker can’t seem to make up his mind about. You can read the whole article if you like…it does have a certain entertainment value…but here are her opinions on the misnamed mission of destiny for the Madison GOP. Her apparent right leaning support also comes with a caveat…not everyone in favor seems to miss the inequality involved:

Walker’s comments about right-to-work being a distraction ARE the distraction. And who cares if it’s a distraction if it’s the right thing to do. That’s what I want to know: Does Gov. Walker think this is the right thing to do? You can’t even argue in this one that Walker’s dodging it because he wants to maintain a strict economic emphasis. This one affects the economy.

For the record, I generally support right-to-work legislation. I don’t believe union membership should be compulsory, nor union dues either, especially since the money and support goes to organizations largely supporting one political side. If studies universally showed disastrous results occurring in other right-to-work states, that might be one thing, but they don’t – they are mixed at best. So I side with freedom, not forced membership.

Opponents argue that it’s unfair for employees to benefit from a union’s work if they don’t help pay for the union; frankly, I wish there could be a provision whereby workers who don’t belong to the union don’t get the union-negotiated benefits. (When I was a newspaper reporter, by the way, we weren’t forced to join the union. Other employees pressured us to do so, though. Weird, then, that the newspaper editorial board opposes right-to-work for everyone else.)

I do not, however, agree with Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald’s comments that he might try to exempt only some unions that support Republicans. That’s just wrong, and it provides an unseemly overlay that takes this one from the realm of principle into the world of political (similarly, I thought Act 10 should have applied to cops and firefighters too). I also don’t agree with rushing right-to-work legislation through. Give people time to weigh in this time. And I don’t like the fact, at all, that Republicans didn’t run on this in the last election and then sprang it on the public. Those are questions of process, but they are certainly troubling ones. So I support right-to-work, but not in the exact way they are going about it.

So we should have right to work…and too bad that non-union supporters would be able to opt out of paying dues but not the union benefits (as long time reader nonquixote had pointed out: that would violate federal law)…and it’s unfair to exempt the unions who supported the GOP this past cycle…somewhere in there is a sense of fair play. Considering all of things she sees wrong…including admitting the economic effects are mixed…it’s really hard to see why she finds the wherewithal to support it!

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