News / Publications » Press Room

February 14, 2012

National/Politics

Twenty Faces of an American Uprising
John Nichols on February 14, 2012, The Nation

…. This was a people-powered uprising, But even the most spontaneous of revolts requires information, messaging and calls to arms. The movement had some national allies. Union leaders such as JERRY McENTEE of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (who declared Wisconsin  to be "ground zero in the struggle for labor rights") and RANDI WEINGARTEN of the American Federation of Teachers came early, as did the REV. JESSE JACKSON.

AFSCME’s McEntee: Obama Budget Puts Middle Class First, Right-Wing Temper Tantrum Ensues
AFSCME news release, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2012

Statement of AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee on President Obama’s 2013 Budget:  “President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal acknowledges the simple truth that creating jobs and strengthening the middle class will build a stronger economy for everyone. The President calls on all Americans to pay their fair share; the budget makes important investments in infrastructure, schools and job creation. President Obama once again has put the needs of middle-class and working families above those of Wall Street brokers and hedge fund managers.

Obama Aims Tax Increase at Highest Earners
By Richard Rubin and Steven Sloan – Bloomberg, Feb 14, 2012

President Barack Obama called for $1.4 trillion in fresh revenue from Americans at the top of the income scale, proposing higher taxes on wages and investments and limiting breaks for retirement savings and health insurance. The tax proposals in the administration’s fiscal 2013 budget plan, released yesterday, were immediately rejected by business groups and congressional Republicans, who said the ideas are part of Obama’s re-election strategy and gave them little chance of advancing into law in 2012.

President's budget makes pay raise proposal official
By Kellie Lunney, Government Executive, Feb 13, 2012

…. “Some people may say that at least it’s not as bad as the Republican proposals,” said Carl Goldman, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 26. “That’s a heck of a standard to judge what is correct and just.”

Plan to close USDA day-care center upsets parents
By Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post,  Tuesday, February 14, 8:25 AM

… Mark Thompson, who represents Foreign Agricultural Service employees as vice president of AFSCME Local 3976, said he held productive meetings with USDA officials on the topic last week. “I know a lot of people in my agency came here because they knew there was day care,” Thompson said. “You can stop by at lunchtime, you can get there right away if the kid is sick, you can take time off in the middle of the day to see them if you want.”

Medicaid Reforms in Obama's Budget Could Shift Costs to States
BY: DYLAN SCOTT | NATION/Governing.com | FEBRUARY 13, 2012

As Medicaid costs escalate and states prepare for further implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Barack Obama sought to address both of those areas of concern in his fiscal year 2013 budget, released Monday. According to the White House’s budget for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Obama’s proposal would save nearly $360 in Medicare and Medicaid over the next 10 years: $56 billion would come through Medicaid reforms. Those reforms, though, could result in greater costs to states, policy analysts say.

Obama Sends Three Nominations for Labor Board to U.S. Senate
February 13, 2012, 6:44 PM EST  (Bloomberg)

President Barack Obama sent to the Senate the nominations of three candidates he appointed last month to the National Labor Relations Board amid a standoff with Senate Republicans. The nominations of Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin, originally announced in December, were at the center of a struggle between Obama and Senate Republicans, who accused the president of exceeding his authority in using his recess appointment power to seat them on the board. Sending the nominations to the Senate is a procedural move.

Obama's '13 budget plan would ramp up healthcare savings
Mon, Feb 13 2012 By David Morgan  (Reuters)

President Barack Obama on Monday proposed more aggressive deficit reductions through savings from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs than the White House put forward just five months ago. At the same time, the president proposed giving an extra $1 billion to the federal agency that is spearheading implementation of his landmark reform law.

Workplace safety a major push for unions / Clashes over practices persist, but safety is a shared interest
Business Insurance, February 12, 2012

While labor unions' growing expertise and involvement in workplace health and safety can spark clashes with U.S. companies, such efforts also have driven collaborative efforts with employers that bring improvements for workers and the companies. Unions point out that they have championed worker safety as a core value throughout their history. But in recent years, they have increasingly invested in health and safety education and technical expertise, in part to improve their appeal among workers, observers say.

Rick Berman: Like a Bad Penny…
BY KATE CHILDS GRAHAM | AFSCME blog, FEBRUARY 13, 2012

… But if anything, Berman’s latest effort – aired during the Super Bowl – seems to be the desperate act of a demagogue past his prime. While it wasn’t exactly a shock to see Berman’s Center for Union Facts spew its venomous fiction on the air, it did come as a surprise to see the once-slick, Washington insider cast himself as a union member, in a performance so fraudulent he didn’t even bother to lose the gold watch or rumple his shirt.

House GOP leaders drop demand that payroll tax cut be offset
By Bernie Becker and Russell Berman, The Hill,  02/13/12 01:52 PM ET

House Republicans said Monday that they would offer a measure to extend the current payroll tax cut for the rest of the year, dropping a previous demand that the tax break be offset.  The move marks a sharp turnaround for GOP leaders, who just last week were maintaining that the payroll tax holiday for 160 million Americans would have to be offset. But after taking a political pounding in December, House Republicans are adopting a new strategy.

Voter Rolls Are Rife With Inaccuracies, Report Finds
By ADAM LIPTAK, New York Times, February 14, 2012

The nation’s voter registration rolls are in disarray, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States. The problems have the potential to affect the outcomes of local, state and federal elections. One in eight active registrations is invalid or inaccurate. At the same time, one in four people who are eligible to vote — at least 51 million potential voters — are not registered.

Survey: Employer insurance declines
By: Tim Mak, Politico, February 14, 2012 06:16 AM EST

Fewer Americans received health insurance from their employer in 2011, continuing a trend that has seen the figure decline over the past three years. According to Gallup, 44.6 percent of Americans received health insurance from an employer in 2011, compared with 45.8 percent in 2010. In 2008, 49.2 percent of Americans received their insurance from their employer.

Pentagon Wants to Raise Some Retirees’ Health Fees
By ELISABETH BUMILLER, New York Times, February 13, 2012

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned that runaway personnel costs at the Pentagon are “unsustainable,” and on Monday he tried to put a big brake on the spending: Over the next five years the Defense Department plans to nearly quadruple the health insurance fees paid by many working-age military retirees.

What Happens When a 911 Emergency Call Goes Silent?
By MICHAEL BRICK, New York Times, February 13, 2012

…. Open-line calls have long plagued emergency dispatchers, who handle about 240 million calls in more than 6,000 communications centers across the country, according to Trey Forgety, government affairs director for the National Emergency Number Association, a trade group.…. Modern dispatchers work under banks of video screens, answering calls with a mouse click, speaking into headsets and monitoring digital mapping programs. About 70 percent of their calls come from cellular phones, which tend to provide only a vague indication of the caller’s whereabouts, according to the Federal Communications Commission. … Across the country, policies on open-line calls vary, depending on the size and resources of the city.

State/Local

AK: Support retirement security for Alaskans
By TOM WESTCOTT, president of Alaska Professional Fire Fighters Association. ADN,  February 13th, 2012 08:11 PM

… There are several reasons to restore traditional pensions. They are the most effective and efficient. Large pensions enjoy economies of scale. They pay much lower fees than individuals. Wall Street loves the individual retirement. They get to charge everyone higher fees. Just Google 401k and hidden fees and you will see what I am talking about.

Arizona bill would restrict recall elections
Alia Beard Rau - Feb. 13, 2012 09:30 PM The Republic | azcentral.com

Senate Republicans hope to avoid a repeat of the recall election that ousted Sen. Russell Pearce in November. The state Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday passed Senate Bill 1449, which would require recall elections to consist of a party-specific primary and then, if necessary, a runoff in which all voters could participate, similar to regular partisan elections.

CA: State Agency Challenges City Pension Reform Plan
10 News, 9:35 pm PST February 13, 2012

The California Public Employee Relations Board ruled Monday that a pension reform initiative set for the June ballot in the city of San Diego amounts to an unfair labor practice. The decision by the board will lead to a lawsuit to try to remove the measure from the ballot. ….. "(The ruling) adds credence to what we've been saying all along during this initiative process, that it is a city-sponsored initiative and there is no way Sanders was acting as a private citizen," said Joan Raymond, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 127 in San Diego.

CA: Stanislaus County jail guards agree to pay decrease
By Garth Stapley, modbee.com, Feb. 13, 2012

Cutting 6 percent of Stanislaus County jail guards' pay would save more than $1 million per year, according to an agreement ratified by custodial deputies, which is going before county leaders this morning. …. AFSCME continues negotiating, and the 67-member Stanislaus County Attorney's Association is expected to begin bargaining in March.

California lawmaker writes 'Public Employees Bill of Rights'
Sacramento Bee, February 13, 2012

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento,(right) has introduced legislation that would give unionized state workers more workplace discipline protections and first dibs on state government work. SEIU Local 1000 and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists support AB 1655, the "Public Employees Bill of Rights Act." Here's what it would do: • Gives unionized state employees priority over outside contractors and excluded state workers to fill permanent, overtime and on-call positions.

CO: Judge slams Bruce's attitude, sends TABOR father to jail
February 13, 2012 7:16 PM THE GAZETTE

Six months in jail. Douglas Bruce could have gotten a lot more. …. Mansfield discounted Bruce’s politics and focused on his attitude, which she called “reprehensible.” She said that Bruce was arrogant and self-righteous throughout the trial, and that he had “absolutely no regard for the rule of law.” Mansfield said that the court reporter even found pieces of evidence on the street that Bruce had tossed aside after he was found guilty.

CT: State plan for GPS devices draws union fire
Brian Lockhart, CT Post 11:12 p.m., Saturday, February 11, 2012

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration has embraced a proposal to install Global Positioning System devices in one of the state's largest fleets of vehicles to track usage. The plan has drawn immediate hostility from a state employee union, which calls it a "morale buster." …. "The insinuation is overtime is going to change, which means they don't believe they're doing their jobs and stealing time and driving places they're not supposed to go," Paul Lavallee [AFSCME Local 2663] said. "(DCF workers) find this to be a slap in the face."

Florida to Vote on Privatizing Prisons
By CAMERON MCWHIRTER and ARIAN CAMPO-FLORES, Wall Street Journal, FEBRUARY 14, 2012

Florida's Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a controversial plan to privatize state prison facilities in southern Florida, a move that would create one of the largest private prison operations in the nation. …. State workers and unions, who consider the measure an assault on public employees, have mobilized across the state.

FL: Jackson Health System board approves union contract, despite questions about savings
MIAMIHERALD.COM, Monday, 02.13.12

…. The other large Jackson union, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, has yet to reach agreement. Workers are also bracing for layoffs, which could be announced in the next few days. Szaro, the chief strategy officer, said, “We believe there are huge opportunities in ‘right-sizing.’” Szaro said he isn’t backing down about his projection that the system would start showing surpluses in July, August and September: “I’m throwing the gauntlet down.”

HI: HGEA frustrated over lack of progress on ‘most favored nation’
Andrew Pereira Email: khon2.com  2/13 11:29 pm 

Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, says members are growing increasingly frustrated over the lack of progress on a ‘most favored nation’ clause contained in the union’s two year contract that began in July of last year. …. But after United Public Workers ratified a two year agreement last November that HGEA has taken issue with, Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration has been in no hurry to invoke the most favored nation clause.

IL: Valley View, Bus Drivers Reach Agreement
By Shannon Antinori, Patch, Feb 13, 2012

Valley View bus drivers agreed to a three-year pay freeze and an across-the-board 75-cent per hour pay cut in exchange for keeping transportation in house. Board of education members agreed to reject all proposals submitted by private bus companies, including frontrunner Durham School Services, and finalize a deal with members of  American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3057 before the union’s current contract expires June 30.

IN: Ruling protects Gov. Mitch Daniels from deposition in IBM lawsuit
6:23 PM, Feb. 13, 2012 |  Indianapolis Star

Gov. Mitch Daniels will not be deposed in dueling lawsuits over the state’s cancelled welfare-modernization contract with IBM, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled late this afternoon. The state’s highest court reversed a Marion County judge’s December ruling that said Daniels must share his knowledge of the deal.

LA: State Democrats announce formation of "truth team" to counter GOP statements
Monday, February 13, 2012, 4:29 PM  By Ed Anderson, The Times-Picayune

….. In a statewide conference call with reporters, Leach said the "Louisiana Truth Team" will involve members of the state party, officials of the AFL-CIO and the Young Democrats who will "set the record straight" on Democrats' accomplishments and attacks on them by the GOP.

LA: State employee count drops
11:15 PM, Feb. 13, 2012 |  News Star

The number of state employees has dropped significantly in the past three years but the amount paid to those still on the payroll hasn't dropped proportionately, a report by the legislative auditor's office shows. The report shows that between June 30, 2005, and June 30, 2011, the overall headcount in state government decreased by 11,210 or 11.8 percent.

MA: University to Offer Some Librarians Early Retirement
By HANA N. ROUSE, SAMUEL Y. WEINSTOCK, and JUSTIN C. WORLAND , CRIMSON  Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The University will offer a Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program to library employees 55 years and older with 10 years of service under their belts, according to a University spokesperson. …. Bill Jaeger, director of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, said the offer was just another ambiguous message from the administration in a process that it has not handled well. “It’s one more step that seems premature and that is poorly considered and not broadly enough consulted about,” Jaeger said. “There’s a record-breaking level of turmoil and anxiety among the staff. This just adds to the confusion.”

ME: Lawsuit Aims to Restore Cuts to Retired Maine State Workers' Pensions
02/13/2012   MPBN

The Maine Association of Retirees this morning mounted a legal challenge to cutbacks introduced last year by Gov. Paul LePage to the pensions of state employees. The association is claiming that the administration's move to reduce the annual cost-of-living adjustments for thousands of retired state employees and public school teachers is unconstitutional.

Michigan pension changes bring lawsuit
1:01 AM, Feb. 14, 2012  Detroit Free Press

A coalition of unions filed a lawsuit Monday against a recent law that requires state employees to opt out of their “defined benefit” pension plans or start contributing 4 percent of their pay to help cover the cost. The state employee unions, which earlier went to court to defeat a requirement that employees put 3 percent of their paychecks toward the cost of retirement health care, called the new requirements radical and unilateral in a news release. …. Five unions representing 34,000 state workers — United Auto Workers Local 6000; the Service Employees International Union Local 517M; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25; the Michigan Corrections Organization, and the Michigan State Employees Association – filed the lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims in Ingham County.

MI: Petition drive seeking to overturn emergency manager law nears conclusion
Monday, February 13, 2012, 7:24 PM  By The Associated Press

A coalition seeking to overturn Michigan's law giving more power to state-appointed emergency managers said Monday it plans to turn in petition signatures at the end of the month to put the law on hold and force a vote on it. The Stand Up for Democracy coalition needs to collect roughly 161,300 valid voter signatures to get the issue on the November ballot. It said it has collected more than 200,000 signatures so far and plans to turn them in Feb. 29 for state officials to verify.

MI: GR Veterans Home privatization plan questioned
4:54 PM, Feb 13, 2012  |  Jessica Puchala  (WZZM)-

A union leader representing caregivers at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans says plans to privatize his job and hundreds of others will harm the health of residents there. "These people fought for every freedom we enjoy -yet they lay in a bed and not get changed, they got dropped out of lifting equipment, they get a broken neck, fingers being broken all sorts of things" said Mark Williams, president of Local 261 of AFSCME, that represents nursing, dietary and activity workers at the home.

MI: State of Michigan could save millions of dollars by cutting office space for 40,000 employees, report says
February 14, 2012 |   Detroit Free Press

The State of Michigan can save millions of dollars by reducing the size of employee work areas and consolidating space, according to an internal state study.

MI: Genesee County board chairman: Tentative agreement reached with AFSCME
Monday, February 13, 2012, 12:00 PM  By Ron Fonger | @mlive.com

The county and a union representing nurses, planners, and attorneys have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract after months of bitter negotiations. County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Curtis said today that the new two-year deal with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 496 Chapter 01 mirrors concessionary contracts signed in 2011 by other county unions.

MN: Weighing In On Proposed ‘Right To Work’ Amendment
February 12, 2012 11:17 AM  (WCCO)

Minnesota Republicans have proposed a “right to work” amendment to the state Constitution. They say they want voters to decide whether people should be forced to join a union as a condition of their employment. If the amendment passes, it will allow people who choose not to be part of the union, not to pay dues. It’s one of several proposals to change the state Constitution at the legislature. Esme Murphy had several people on her WCCO Sunday Morning show to weigh in on the topic, including Rep. Kurt Zellers and Executive Director of the AFSCME Council 5 Eliot Seide. Watch the full interviews below.

MN: Taking Aim at High Cost of Child Care in Minnesota
Public News Service – MN, February 14, 2012

A bill introduced on Monday at the state Capitol looks to cut the cost of day care in Minnesota, among the states with the highest average costs. Sponsor of the Child Care Affordability Act (HF 2219), Rep. Nora Slawik (D-Maplewood), says working families are getting squeezed and often have to turn to a less than desirable choice to care for their kids. …. Slawik points out what she sees as a paradox of child care: that parents can't pay more and providers can't work for less. She says that's why union child care providers with AFSCME and SEIU support the Affordability Act. Some estimates put the average annual child care cost in Minnesota at nearly $13,000.

MN: Philanthropy beat: State workers donate millions
Star Tribune Updated: February 13, 2012 - 9:03 PM

Over the past decade, Minnesota state employees have raised about $1 million each year to support charities across the state.

N.J. Senate votes 24 to 16 to legalize gay marriage
MONDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2012 15:29 TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

….. The vote on the Democratic-sponsored bill was along party lines and sets the measure up to be voted on by the Democratic-controlled Assembly on Thursday.

NM: Unions Want Raises Over Park
By Rosalie Rayburn / Journal Tue, Feb 14, 2012 

  Leaders of unions representing Rio Rancho employees, police and firefighters are criticizing city councilors for lack of communication and accountability. In a memo sent last week, they called for an “immediate change” in the way the council handles city spending, claiming the council has failed to meet contractual obligations with the unions. … Leaders of the Rio Rancho Fire Fighters Association, Rio Rancho Police and Communications Association Local 7911, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3277 said they wanted to act together to ask councilors to consider pay increases for city union employees, which they said are long overdue.

NY: Budget language fight goes public
By Brandon Quinn, Legislative Gazette, February 13, 2012

…. Among DiNapoli's concerns in regards to the executive office's attempt to "bypass the office of the state comptroller's procurement review as well as the competitive bidding process" are: running the risk of overpaying for services, getting substandard goods or services, awarding contracts to irresponsible and ineligible vendors, and engaging in favoritism or "pay for play" contracts.. ….. Steve Madarasz, spokesman for the Civil Service Employees Association, one of the state's largest unions that has been out in front of the issue, said "there is a lack of transparency here that we believe is bad public policy. This is what we've been saying since day one. When someone like the state comptroller comes out with a detailed analysis saying the same thing it can't do anything but validate the issue."

NY: Quinn campaign for pro-union wage bill
By SALLY GOLDENBERG, NY Post  February 14, 2012

In a move that should please labor unions, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is working on a deal to expand the number of workers who would be paid “prevailing wages” on city-subsidized projects, The Post has learned. Under the proposal, building-service workers hired by private companies that have city subsidies would have to be paid higher “prevailing wages” set by the city comptroller.

OH: Consultant gets deal for study of turnpike
Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday February 14, 2012 5:28 AM

The state officially will begin studying potential options for privatizing the Ohio Turnpike, thanks to Controlling Board approval yesterday of a $2.85 million contract with a Texas consulting firm. KPMG Corporate Finance will examine turnpike operations and, by the end of the year, offer state officials a range of options on what to do with the 241-mile toll road. At a time when the state is pushing major highway projects well into the future because of a lack of funds, Gov. John Kasich has said the road could be worth billions.

OH: Westerville schools union OKs concessions
Jennifer Smith Richards, The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday February 14, 2012  

….. The Westerville Board of Education approved the contract for the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 138 at its meeting last night.  ….  The union, which represents about 180 custodians, maintenance and food-service workers in the Westerville district, is the second of four unions to agree to concessions, which take effect only if all of the unions agree to them. …. he Westerville Educational Support Staff Association already has agreed to the same terms, which include a two-year pay freeze and an additional $1,200 per year in health-care deductibles for families. OAPSE Local 719, which serves bus drivers and mechanics, plans to vote on a similar wage and health-care package this week, Caldwell said.

OH: Prison wardens get raises amid reorganization
Feb. 14, 2012 |  AP

The state prisons director says most Ohio wardens received raises this year as they take on more responsibility under a reorganization plan for the overcrowded system. That's drawing criticism from the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the union that represents about 9,000 corrections staff, which views the raises as an insult in light of hundreds of layoffs and reports of a looming budget shortfall in the prisons division. "They're asking us to make sacrifices but giving exorbitant raises to, basically, the desk jockeys," OCSEA spokeswoman Sally Meckling said.

OR: Audit finds no abuse in Oregon's public contracting system / Report: Former state workers get no advantages
11:15 PM, Feb. 13, 2012 |   Statesman Journal

Auditors have found no evidence of widespread abuse of the public contracting system to provide "sweetheart deals" to former Oregon state employees, according to a report issued Monday by the Secretary of State's office.

OR: House Republicans block Oregon's health insurance exchange in surprise vote
Monday, February 13, 2012, 2:13 PM  By Nick Budnick, The Oregonian

A coalition of 30 Republicans and 1 Democrat in the state House of Representatives blocked approval of Oregon's health insurance exchange this morning, prompting concern that bills are being taken hostage to leverage other votes in the month-long 2012 Legislature.

RI: Providence to College: Pay Up
By JENNIFER LEVITZ, Wall Street Journal, FEBRUARY 14, 2012

As a nonprofit, Brown University has long enjoyed broad property-tax relief on its regal cluster of brick buildings in the state capital's best neighborhood. Now, Providence says it's broke, and City Hall is pointing up College Hill at the Ivy League university, the city's largest landowner. Mayor Angel Taveras, a Democrat who took office a year ago, has already raised taxes and fees on local residents and businesses, renegotiated labor contracts, and closed four public schools seeking to close a budget gap that amounts to $22.5 million for the fiscal year ending in June. But at a recent news conference, Mr. Taveras accused the city's biggest tax-exempt nonprofits—singling out Brown—of a "failure to sacrifice." He has been pressing the university to pay millions more in voluntary payments in lieu of taxes.

SD: In South Dakota, plenty of jobs, not enough workers
By John Gramlich, Stateline, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2012

… The first-term Republican governor wants to pay Manpower $5 million to use its broad national network to find 1,000 skilled workers willing to move to South Dakota and fill a surplus of private-sector jobs, with positions for accountants, engineers, IT specialists and welders especially in demand. Daugaard approved a contract with the firm on a conditional basis in January, but lawmakers still must appropriate the money for the deal to move forward. …. But using public funds to hire a recruitment firm to fill immediate private-sector needs represents a unique approach, even for a state known for innovation in economic development.

WA: Gregoire’s signature legislation
ALEXIS KRELL | Olympian  February 14, 2012

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed same-sex marriage into law Monday afternoon. Three hours later, opponents started the process to overturn it.

WA: Council Considers Placing KCLS Library Annexation on Ballot in Tonight's Meeting
April Chan Patch,  February 13, 2012

Two resolutions and one ordinance -- all related to a potential ballot item in the April elections putting to voters whether or not the city library should annex into King County Library System -- come before the Enumclaw City Council tonight. …. KCLS will offer employment to current library staff who are interested in employment. Terms and conditions would be set forth in an agreement between KCLS and the employees' union AFSCME.

WI: Whose Wisconsin recall is it? Veer to the populist left or hug the middle of the road: That's the choice facing the campaign against Scott Walker
BY JOSH EIDELSON, Salon.com FEB 13, 2012 3:00 PM

….. “I would hope that Tom Barrett understands the issues here, and why he might not fit the matrix of what a champion looks like,” says Marty Biel, executive director of the largest local of the state’s largest district council of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). …. “Historically it was labor and the Democratic Party that partnered in the political process,” says Biel.  “But here the change is, it’s labor and the community that partner in the political process.”  We Are Wisconsin’s ads helped establish the campaign’s populist edge, and some Democrats’ ads reinforced it.  The more third-party groups dominate advertising, the more populist it’s likely to be.  A spokesperson for Democracy for America  says the national group will support We Are Wisconsin’s efforts.

WI: Madison Politiscope: Fitzgerald campaign submits bizarre, inaccurate signature challenges
JACK CRAVER | The Capital Times |  Tuesday, February 14, 2012 5:45 am

Is it too much to ask a citizen to legibly fill out his name and address? A glimpse of the petitions submitted to recall Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, suggests that it might be. However, the poor penmanship and geographic ignorance that seems to afflict many in the 13th Senate District is not quite as surprising as the sloppiness and apparent ineptitude that define the Fitzgerald campaign's petition challenges.