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Rock County Board votes against referendum

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Catherine W. Idzerda
January 13, 2012
— Supervisor Hank Brill predicted it would fall on deaf ears.

Supervisor Larry Wiedenfeld said the people should be heard.


In the end, the "nays" spoke louder than the "yeas."


On Thursday, the Rock County Board of Supervisors voted 14-10 against placing a countywide referendum question on the ballot. Five members were absent.


The referendum question would have read: "Should all Wisconsin workers have the right to seek safe working conditions and fair pay through collective bargaining?"


The referendum question was drafted by Supervisor Robert Fizzell and supported by supervisors Ivan Collins, Terry Thomas and Marv Wopat.


Fizzell told the board that collective bargaining has the ability to "make peace" between management and labor.


The referendum would have been advisory only, but the results would have been sent on to area legislators.


Voters already made their thoughts on collective bargaining clear in the last election, Supervisor Phillip Owens said.


"This gives people the chance to express their sentiments in the here and now," Wiedenfeld replied. "None of this was mentioned before the November election. I think we should let the people speak and be heard."


Even if the referendum passed, the message it sent would "fall on deaf ears," Brill said.


"It could cost $10,000 to put this on the ballot," Brill said.


The addition of the referendum question might mean an additional ballot for some areas, and that could cost between $10,000 and $11,000, said County Clerk Lori Stottler. Much depends a Government Accountability Board decision ruling how April election ballots will be formatted.


"The cost of stifling democracy is much more than the cost of the referendum," Wiedenfeld said.



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