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Badger State Showdown: Assembly passes controversial bill

The Wisconsin State Journal headline: “Tempers explode as Assembly passes controversial budget repair bill.” “Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly took the first significant action on their plan to strip collective bargaining rights from most public workers, abruptly passing the measure early Friday morning before sleep-deprived Democrats realized what was happening. The vote ended three straight days of punishing debate in the Assembly that made it the longest continuous session in Assembly history.” Now, it heads to the Senate.

Cracking Down: “Wisconsin state troopers were dispatched yesterday to the doorsteps of some of the AWOL Democratic senators in hopes of finding at least one who would come back to allow a vote on a measure to curb the power of public-employee unions,” the AP writes. “The stepped-up tactic ordered by the Republican head of the Senate came amid reports that at least a few of the missing senators were returning home at night to pick up clothes, food, and other necessities, before rejoining their colleagues in Illinois.”

“The protest can continue, but the party is almost over,” the Wisconsin State Journal adds. “Come Saturday, nearly two weeks after it started, the non-stop, drum-circle chant-a-thon that has consumed the state Capitol could officially end. Lawmakers approved a rule change this week that clears the way for Capitol police to close down the statehouse at 6 p.m. on Saturday and end the biggest rally in recent memory. The only question now is whether Gov. Scott Walker will ask the officers to enforce the rule.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial page, which endorsed Walker during the campaign, writes of the prank call, “What wasn't funny was the revealing peek the incident provided behind the veil of the Walker administration.”  ‘Koch’ at one point said he thought about ‘planting some troublemakers’ in the massive crowds protesting Walker's bill. Walker demurred - but not because that would be wrong, a modern version of a Nixon dirty trick. ‘We thought about that,’ Walker said. He declined the offer because the ‘ruckus’ might put pressure on him to give in. As the call wound down, ‘Koch’ suggested he'd jet Walker off to California ‘and really show you a good time.’ ‘All right,’ the governor said. ‘That would be outstanding.’ Actually, it would be unethical.”

And there’s this… “Madison's mayor and police chief Thursday called on Gov. Scott Walker to explain statements he made in a secretly recorded phone conversation that he ‘thought about’ planting troublemakers among the thousands of demonstrators at the Capitol. ‘Someone in his inner circle raised seriously the possibility of hiring people to come in and apparently create violence in my city,’ Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. ‘I find it appalling, and I want to know who that was.’”

A new AFL-CIO ad hits Walker on the prank call.

The Boston Globe’s editorial page takes on Walker: “Many states, including Massachusetts, need to take a fuller account of the promises they’ve made to public-employee unions. Even as legislatures scrape for revenue amid a weak economy, the costs of long-established pension and health care benefits continue to grow. But new legislation proposed in Wisconsin by Republican Governor Scott Walker looks less like a serious effort to manage the cost of government than like a political vendetta against a traditional Democratic interest group. Worse yet, his uncompromising approach is likely to hinder a more thoughtful discussion of public-employee contracts — not just in Wisconsin, but in statehouses from coast to coast.”