Cops and side-effects

by Harry on February 25, 2011

Can anybody in Indiana comment on this? (thanks roac).

With a wary eye on Wisconsin, Republican leaders in several states are toning down the tough talk against public employee unions and, in some cases, abandoning anti-union measures altogether. Indiana’s governor urged GOP lawmakers to give up on a “right to work” bill for fear the backlash could derail the rest of his agenda. In Ohio, senators plan to soften a bill that would have banned all collective bargaining by state workers. And in Michigan, the Republican governor says he’d rather negotiate with public employees than pick a fight.

Hard to know what to say about this:

“The law enforcement officers from across the state that have been working at the Capitol and have been very impressed with how peaceful everyone has been,” said WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer. “As has been reported in the media, the protesters are cleaning up after themselves and have not caused any problems. The fact of that matter is that Wisconsin’s law enforcement community opposes Governor Walker’s effort to eliminate most union activity in this state, and we implore him to not do anything to increase the risk to officers and the public. The costs of providing security can never outweigh those associated with a conflict.” Palmer also announced that, beginning tonight, the WPPA is formally requesting its members from across the state to come to the Capitol to sleep amongst the throngs of other union supporters.
“Law enforcement officers know the difference between right and wrong, and Governor Walker’s attempt to eliminate the collective voice of Wisconsin’s devoted public employees is wrong,” continued Palmer. “That is why we have stood with our fellow employees each day and why we will be sleeping among them tonight.”

I guess my daughter, now largely absent from the home, will be safe.



Sam H. 02.25.11 at 11:13 pm

Am I mistaken in thinking that this expression of solidarity from law enforcement is an enormously big deal? It’s been difficult, nearly impossible, not to contrast the goings-on in Madison with the strangely synchronistic protests in Africa and the Near East and the statement from the WPPA somehow reinforces that sense. Perhaps it’s nothing, only wishful thinking, but it “feels” big.


Steve LaBonne 02.25.11 at 11:44 pm

It is a big deal. It’s happening in Ohio as well (where Kasich’s proposal did NOT exempt them). It could help flip the Ohio House back to the Democrats next time, and two years after that make Kasich a one-term governor. Unions, and their members, which have given a lot of support to Republicans in the past will now actively work to defeat them.


Warren Terra 02.26.11 at 12:47 am

RE developments in Indiana, you might try the Doghouse Riley blog


Matt 02.26.11 at 12:50 am

My father was a police officer for 30+ years, and they took their union very seriously- it obviously made a huge difference to their work situation and especially their health care. Police officers are not (usually, at least) allowed to strike, but they do understand it, at least most of the time, these days. While I can’t say I’d expect a situation like this, it doesn’t completely surprise me, either.


Sev 02.26.11 at 1:17 am

#1 “Am I mistaken in thinking that this expression of solidarity from law enforcement is an enormously big deal? It’s been difficult, nearly impossible, not to contrast the goings-on in Madison with the strangely synchronistic protests in Africa and the Near East”

IOW “The Police and the Protesters are one hand!”


Map Maker 02.26.11 at 2:46 am

Hmmm …

“The costs of providing security can never outweigh those associated with a conflict.”

I guess I’m glad he was at the gate of the University of Mississippi or the school door steps in Alabama in the 1960s …


Map Maker 02.26.11 at 2:46 am

that is “wasn’t at the gate” …


Christopher Phelps 02.26.11 at 3:36 am

The turning of the cops is important not just for morale and symbolism; it is very important for turning the Republican moderate Senators’ votes. It gives them exactly what they need to justify themselves in future Republican primaries.


Fred 02.26.11 at 4:07 am

In D.C. you can’t protest in the capital. Heck, you can’t even get a letter to Congress or the White House in less than a month.


The Tragically Flip 02.26.11 at 5:46 am

If I had to guess I might wonder if Walker misjudged the strength of the partisan/ideological loyalty of the Police for right wing governance as compared to their own perception of themselves as blue collar workers (not questioning that they might be fairly considered so) and unwillingness to be the last Union standing because of some super special treatment and backscratching.

IIRC the Firefighters went over the wall first, and it was getting mighty lonely in Walker’s camp.

Or, (and it could be concurrent) – the Police aren’t stupid either and could see that their collective bargaining would eventually be yanked too, one or two more election cycles and suddenly the Republicans would be wondering aloud why the poor Police officers were denied the “choice” to not have a union protect them and in the interest of “fairness” offer Police the same deal all the other state non-unionized workplaces now had.


The Tragically Flip 02.26.11 at 5:49 am

I was thinking earlier about why the Assembly pulled that silly stunt last night too, it seemed excessive and not politically smart but if they were fearing they’d lose enough votes to not even be able to pass the thing, that might explain the sudden snap vote.

I rather hope the Assembly Republicans get to enjoy the pain of the US House Democrats in taking an unpopular vote that will go nowhere because of minority obstruction in the upper chamber.


Christopher Phelps 02.26.11 at 9:12 am

Christopher Phelps 02.26.11 at 9:11 am

Two suggestive reasons as to why the police union is taking this stance now.

Point One: Walker’s imbecility

Point Two: The impending action



dbk 02.26.11 at 10:18 am

What looks to me like what might prove to be another “very big deal”:

“A coordinating committee is being formed to contact European unions with experience conducting general strikes, and to begin educating and organizing unions, students and other groups, said Carl Aniel, labor federation delegate from AFSCME Local 171.”

Wisconsinites are proving to be incredibly fast learners, an inspiration for us all.


Harry 02.26.11 at 1:52 pm

Right, the SCFL has called for a general strike int he event that this passes. What that means, and how it could be sustained, remains to be seen. My employer is already making contingency plans for it (it would shut us down completely).
The cops on the ground have been making it completely clear right from the start where their sympathies lie, and my understanding is that the firefighters and cops have been working together from day one. A TV ad by the WPPA at this point would be dynamite.


dbk 02.26.11 at 3:39 pm

Right, OK then.
How can those of us outside Wisconsin help in persuading the WPPA that this would be a “dynamite” move?


Margaret 02.26.11 at 4:40 pm

I would never underestimate Walker’s delusional imbecility, but I think you are also witnessing a certain parochialism. The Milwaukee police and firefighters were mad at the Milwaukee mayor, who was Walker’s Democratic rival, and they supported Walker enthusiastically. In Walker’s decision to reward police and firefighters by exempting them from his draconian measures, he may have assumed that his support among them was wider than turned out to be the case.


Christopher Phelps 02.26.11 at 4:52 pm

Those in Wisconsin, who do you suppose will carry out the order to clear the capitol if it occurs today or tomorrow? County sherriff officers from upstate, deputized, or what? The state police must be furious not to have been exempted and might refuse. Can 8000 people be removed safely, anyway?

I’m not sure I have such a good feeling about the direction of the thing. Walker is just dumb enough to push it all too far.


Harry 02.26.11 at 4:56 pm

dbk — I’m guessing by writing to them asking to do it and pledging to give money to help pay for it. I’ll see what I can find out when the boy stops bothering me.


Christopher Phelps 02.26.11 at 5:02 pm

I should say that I would like for it all to come out beautifully. I just worry the Republicans may be finding their inner fascists, viz., the Assembly maneuver, and now the impending decree to vacate.


Harry 02.26.11 at 5:48 pm

The removal, I imagine, will be calm and peaceful. The protesters know this has been extraordinary, and most of the overnights have been youngsters, and there seems to be a commitment to remain within the law as long as possible. We’ll see. I think there is a will to go beyond the law if and when that seems that it will have beneficial effects, and can be done en masse.


Christopher Phelps 02.26.11 at 5:57 pm

Okay, that’s good. It just occurred to me that Walker can use the National Guard. It would be a gigantic waste of money, but one can spare no expense for fiscal responsibility, especially not if you’re the best governor Koch money can buy.


rosmar 02.26.11 at 7:10 pm

A friend just shared this video with me, which shows a police officer explaining their decision to join the protesters:


VV 02.26.11 at 8:52 pm

” It just occurred to me that Walker can use the National Guard.”

Seriously? With policemen among the people that need to be removed? That could get very interesting…


Northwoods Granny 02.27.11 at 4:20 pm

I doubt northcountry county deputies will be answering any call to go down to Madison and move people out. They are stretched thin up here as it is, and they will see no percentage in acting to support this move.

What I find offensive is the number of commercials being run across our northern airwaves by the Koch brothers in support of this bad idea/bad faith move by Walker. It makes clear the deep pockets behind this move. If that money went instead to plugging Walker’s deficit, Wisconsin might well end up with a surplus. This is outside agitation bought by big money – the Kochs are based in Wichita. What have they to do with Wisconsin? Clearly they see much $$ to be made if they can force this through. Why should we make them richer by giving up the right to associate for any of our citizens?

I can’t speak for all northwooders, but for myself, I am offended by this kind of careless, contemptuous manipulation. They are too stoopid to realize that we are Not Stoopid.

Boycott Brawny towels, Dixie, Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, etc. Anything Georgia-Pacific. There are lists available of Koch bros products. Boycott them all. They obviously have too much money already.


steven 02.28.11 at 3:29 pm

Cops are traditonally torn in a curious way: their moral fiber ususally makes them social conservatives, but they know deep down inside that the Kochesque plutocrats of the world–the leaders of today’s conservative movements–look down on them as if they were no better than publicly-funded trained killer robots who could easily be replaced with privately-manufactured ones if the need came to it, and especially if it means more money for some already-wealthy person.

For example, I know of a vocal hedge-fund bigshot who sits on the board of a pro-law enfocement thinktank (“the gallant thin blue line has to keep the rabble above 110th Street”) who, out of the other side of his foaming mouth, decries the way in which their unions are outright stealing from hard working bankers everywhere (“their salaries are ridiculous, their pensions are criminal!”).

One thing cops are good at is smelling BS. What we are seeing is a possible sea change in the way in which they pick sides in politics, given how their is an inherent conflict in their allegiances. The truth of the matter is all moderates and even many hard leftists don’t disagree with the goals of policing and the principles of the average cop: safe homes, safe streets, citizens treating each other with respect, removing the violent, criminally insane, etc. from the general population. There is more agreement on everyday issues than we often give credit for. At the same time, the Gov is Wis has shown cops that no, he doesn’t really respect them for who they are and the middle-class cloth they’re cut from. People like cops–unionized high school and maybe college grads who chose a noble career at which they could make a good living and have a family–are beneath the contempt of the gov and the Kochs, and the cops know this.

And so the cops and the leftists and the unions are coming together as one, at the peril of causing a rift between cops and their traditionally republican representatives.

And it is a beautiful thing.

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