Thursday, March 10, 2011

There's a reason for recalls

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorializes that the transgressions of state senators of both parties don't justify recalling them and that lawmakers should be able to do their jobs without looking over their shoulders.

Wrong.

The editorial's premise that hasty recalls are ill-advised is sound. But the current shenanigans by the Senate and Assembly Republicans are living proof of why recall opportunities exist.
This is not to let the Democrats off scot free. If you perceive their leaving the state in order to stall a preordained vote on some very bad legislation as a transgression it's still not up to the level that should trigger a recall. The same can't be said for the Republicans.

Let's start with the notion of a preordained vote. Not unprecedented but here the so-called "budget repair bill" would have unraveled 50 years of precedent in a matter of days with no meaningful public input. In fact, before the Joint Finance Committee commenced its hastily called public hearing announcements were made that Governor Walker "had the votes" to get his way. Why bother with a public hearing that was nothing more than a sham process?

More important, the justification for recall is found not in the shenanigans -- including an unlawful misuse of state troopers to pressure the missing senators -- but rather in the Republicans forfeiting the very purpose of their office. It is the legislative branch that is supposed to set policy and the executive carries it out.

Here the GOP legislators couldn't move fast enough to cow-tow to the executive, ignoring that the three branches of government exist to provide a system of checks and balances. No dissent, no meaningful debate -- it's Walker's way or the highway. Why should the Democrats return when their input will ne for naught?

A friend once chaired the Michigan Senate's appropriations committee. I once asked him if he thought of running for governor. He replied, "Why should I? When he wants something he has to come and see me."

As it should be. The lock-step rigidity in abdicating our system of checks and balances alone justifies recall.

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