Archive for May, 2011

Wisconsin Elections for Sale or Rent

Lots to discuss this week. The WI Supreme Court Justice recount is a total mess with serious chain of custody issues and more.  The Wisconsin Republican Party has been exposed for committing widespread Election Fraud in their attempts to recall Democratic State Senators, A Republican Legislative Staffer is now being investigated by the LaCrosse County District Attorney’s Office in regard to allegedly committing voter fraud, and a concealed carry bill will most likely pass, and won’t require any training or proficiency.  What are YOUR thoughts? Feel free to comment.

May 14 Capitol Rally

Date: May 14, 2011 – 2:30pm – 4:00pm
Wisconsin State Capitol Madison, WI
See map: Google Maps

Walker and legislative allies plan to bypass courts, jam rights-stripping measures through with their budget proposal!

2:30 – Musical Guest: PurgAtory Hill – pat mAcdonald and MelanieJane.

3:00 – Speakers including:

Dave Cieslewicz
Grant Hendrickson
Phil Neunfeldt – AFL-CIO
Ben Manski, Liberty Tree Foundation
Sen. Jon Erpenbach
Christian P, Youth of Voices de la Fronterra
Kabzuag Vaj – Freedom, Inc
Sarah Lloyd, Family Farm Defenders
Leon Burzynski, President of WIARA
Alex Hanna, President of the TAA
Bob Jahn, AFSCME
Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin
Mary Bell, President, WEAC


We Are Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Wave will host a rally on the Capitol steps on Saturday, May 14, to send Scott Walker and his legislative allies a resounding message: stop your attacks on working people.


Wisconsinites have joined together and prevented Scott Walker’s radical plan to take away worker rights for three months, but he is not done.  As we learned from their illegal attempt to jam through the budget repair bill in the dark of night, Walker and his allies are so hell-bent on taking away the rights of Wisconsin workers that they are prepared to use any and all means necessary to achieve their goals.
Now, with their first cynical attempt at union-busting tied up in the courts, Walker’s allies now say they’re ready to add the rights-stripping measures to the state budget now flying through the legislature.
Reintroducing plans to take bargaining rights away from workers into Scott Walker’s fatally-flawed state budget would consolidate Walker’s attacks on Wisconsin’s middle class into a single, horrific piece of legislation.  Scott Walker’s budget:
  • Raises costs in health care and food assistance programs that are relied upon by 1.2 million workers, unemployed, retired and disabled people in Wisconsin
  • Breaks up and corporatizes the UW System, raising tuition and threatening closure of campuses
  • Guts the ability of Wisconsin Technical Colleges to prepare and retrain working people
  • Eliminates advanced placement and science and technology course in schools
  • Rolls back recycling and conservation programs throughout Wisconsin
Despite all of this, Scott Walker’s fatally-flawed budget still has plenty of room for gifts for his dearest friends.  Containing $200 million of tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in giveaways to his largest donors, Walker’s budget is a bonanza for the donors and corporate lobbyists who surely wrote it.
The legislature must reject this horrifying budget and start over.  The attacks on working families, seniors, students, the poor, and the environment and our rights must end.  Join We Are Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Wave at the State Capitol at 2:30pm on Saturday, May 14, because our fight continues and we will not be silenced. Join us.  The event on Facebook. 

As if the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice “recount” isn’t a big enough mess, It appears that the Wisconsin GOP  has been engaged in widespread fraud surrounding their attempts to recall democratic senators.  Inexplicably, the Republican Party of Wisconsin had relied heavily on people they hired from out of state to collect signatures against democrats, even paying to house these folks in hotel rooms.   In all cases, they paid by the signature. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? The decision to pay out of state people when there are plenty of unemployed folks that reside in those senate districts who may actually be invested in the outcome of these recall elections makes no sense at all.

But the story gets even better.

In a press release issued today by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller states  “”The overwhelming evidence clearly shows a pervasive pattern of election fraud committed by the shady out-of-state organization hired by Republicans to collect recall petitions,” and  “Thousands of Wisconsin citizens fell victim to lies and misinformation spread by the circulators, and the papers submitted by this operation contain a river of omissions and wrong information.”

Additionally, another questionable organization, American Patriot Recall Coalition,  is also involved and is headed by Dan Baltes, the convicted felon who spent 10 years in the Idaho prison system for grand theft, forgery and writing bad checks. Surprised?
Miller continued:  “We believe that when the facts are reviewed, the GAB will throw out thousands of flawed signatures because they were fraudulent or defective. The vast depth of this misconduct calls into question the legitimacy of every signature collected by these circulators, and shows that the GOP effort failed to gather the valid signatures needed for recall elections.
The formal challenge, to be filed on behalf of the Democratic senators is expected to happen this afternoon, and allegedly shows that the number of invalid signatures gathered through election fraud would reduce the valid signatures collected against all three democratic senators enough to invalidate the recall petitions.  A press conference will be held at 4:15 today with Democratic Party of Wisconsin counsel Jeremy Levinson to discuss the challenge.

The challenge of GOP recall petitions features many claims from Wisconsin citizens who were victimized by the actions of a disreputable out-of-state firm hired by Wisconsin Republicans to collect signatures.  Kennedy Enterprises received nearly $100,000 from the Republican Party of Wisconsin to circulate recall petitions.  Kennedy owns a tarnished reputation based on past offenses in Colorado.

Some of the cases and examples of election fraud outlined in the formal recall challenge of GOP petitions to be filed this afternoon include:

  • Senate District 12:  Of the 534 people contacted who had signed the petition, 9.2% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.
  • Senate District 22:  Of the 225 people contacted who had signed the petition, 6.6% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.
  • Senate District 30:  Of the 372 people contacted who had signed the petition, 8.6% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.
  • Affidavit of a World War II veteran from Green Bay who was misled into signing a recall petition.  Upon learning he had been duped, veteran called the sheriff to get his name removed.  When confronted, the circulator claims he will remove the name, but a later review of the petitions reveals the veteran’s name was never crossed off.
  • Many affidavits attesting that Circulator Sherri Ferrell – who gathered nearly 3,000 signatures in two districts — gathered signatures on Indian reservations claiming petitions were to support “schools,” “Democrats,” and “tribal rights.”
  • Affidavit of voter in Senate District 22 attesting that circulator John Prijic claimed the petitions were for work to be done on a local park.
  • Affidavit of voter in Senate District 30 attesting that circulator Annette Lord claimed the petitions were to recall Republican Senator Cowles.
  • Affidavit of voter in Senate District 30 attesting that circulator Richard Madrill claimed the petitions were to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
  • William Pocan’s forged name appears on line 10, page 362 of circulator Kevin Pursell’s petition.  As his widow Corinne Pocan’s affidavit attests, William Pocan has been deceased 20 years, although his name remains in the phone book.   Pursell circulated numerous pages.
  • Claims by many Wisconsin citizens who were misled by out-of-state circulators who claimed they could sign on behalf of other people.
  • Numerous examples of fake addresses and signatures appearing on GOP recall petitions, as well as sloppily gathered signatures also missing critical information.
  • Summary of out-of-state circulators hired by GOP with largest percentages of fraud or deception on GOP recall petitions:
Get ready for some excitement and outrage folks, as thousands of pages of evidence and dozens of affidavits are about to be released. Many of the signature collectors came from states such as Oklahoma, Florida, Colorado, Illinois, California, New York and Minnesota. Somewhat ironic since it is the Wisconsin Republican Party and their elected officials that dismiss the Wisconsin Uprising as a bunch of “Out of State Rent-a-Thugs”. Verified reports of Republicans playing loose and fast with elections are turning up every day. Just a couple of days ago we learned of a Republican legislative staffer voting in district over 100 miles from her home.  Stay tuned.
And feel free to leave a comment and discuss!

District 48 Assembly Candidate Andy Heidt

Madison, WI.  Today, Assembly candidate Andy Heidt sent a letter to the Governor asking him to schedule a special election in order to fill the seat vacated by Rep Joe Parisi after Parisi was elected as Dane County Executive.   Heidt wrote to the Governor, “Representation is a fundamental right. It is wrong to delay giving the people of the 48th District the opportunity to choose their representative. As James Otis stated almost 260 years ago, ‘Taxation without representation is tyranny.”

District resident Melanie Herzog agrees, “Like everyone else in Wisconsin, we deserve to have our
representative working for us in the Assembly. I’m glad Andy’s putting pressure on the Governor to
make that happen.”

It is the responsibility of Governor Walker to call for a special election to fill the empty seat. Joe Parisi was elected as the Dane County Executive on April 2nd, and resigned from the assembly on April 14th.  Governor Walker has yet to address the vacancy.

Heidt noted that this is a crucial time and the people of the 48th District have effectively been silenced by Governor Walker’s apparent lack of interest in filling the seat vacated by the new Dane County Executive. “While Governor Walker can find the time for prank callers posing as billionaires, and to travel around the country raising money for recall campaigns from other states, he is sending a clear message that he’s just not concerned about the people of the 48th,” said Heidt.

This special election will come at a time where Wisconsin is experiencing a spate of historical recall elections in the state senate.  6 republicans and what appears to be 2 democrats will most likely face contests set for July 12.

Heidt is the President of AFSCME 1871, Dane County Professionals Union and the Ombudsman for
the Dane County Department of Human Services. He volunteers as Co-Chair of Covering Kids and
Families-Wisconsin, an organization dedicated to health care coverage of children and families in the
state. Heidt is also a former member of the Madison Common Council.

Scott Walker and his Corporate Puppeteers.

It’s been a cold spring here in Madison.  Just about every rally I’ve been a part of, it seems to have been freezing, snowing and/or raining.  Surprisingly, the weather looked promising for the May Day, or International Workers Day, rally that would begin with speakers in Brittingham Park, involve a March to the State Capitol, and end with additional speakers on the Capitol steps.  Seemed like a great day to load my son Sal into the bike trailer and set out on a bit of an adventure.

Sal in his Chariot about to head out to the rally.

Before leaving the house, I decided to wear my Italian National Football team jacket in recognition of my own immigrant ancestry; My grandparents had come from Comune di Loreto Aprutino in Italy.  There is also an important Italian connection with Brittingham Park, as Italian immigrants used to have annual family picnics there, on the shore of Monona bay.  The park happens to be adjacent to the Greenbush neighborhood which was once the heart and soul of Madison’s Italian community. Sadly, under the guise of “Urban Renewal” in the 1960’s, the Greenbush neighborhood was bulldozed to make way for public housing and hospitals. All of the Italians and African Americans who adored the neighborhood were relocated elsewhere. One of the only remaining remnants of the old ‘Bush is the Italian Workmans Club building, or properly, “Club Lavoratori Italiani Siclilia”. I’m proud to be a member of the council and active in this organization that has continually served the community since 1912.  Anyway, I’m not that far removed from my own familial immigrant past so I feel a particular kinship with current immigrants and their desire for the same opportunities afforded to my family.

So Sal and I pack up and happily hit the road on this beautiful sunny day…and run smack into 30 mph headwinds!  Anyone who has a pulled a bike trailer with a 34 lb 3-year-old and all his “stuff” knows that this was not an easy ride.  We eventually arrive despite the best efforts of the wind to keep us away, and notice that the turnout is pretty impressive, but nowhere near the 100 thousand strong crowd that marched in Milwaukee with National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. There is a solid mix of folks associated with the Immigrant Workers Union, Professional and Labor Unions, families with small children, police, teachers and activists. The main message of the rally is:

A Just Taxation System where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share!
Living Wage Jobs!
The Right to Collectively Organize and Bargain!
Quality, Affordable Public Education!
Instate Tuition for Undocumented Students!
Quality and Affordable Healthcare for All!
Protection of our Environment!
Access to Healthy Food and Quality Housing!
A Secure Retirement!
No Arizona-style Anti-Immigrant Laws!

A pretty broad spectrum of people speak to the issues including Ben Manski from Liberty Tree, Jim Cavanaugh-President of the South Central Federation of Labor, Will Williams- Madison area Peace Coalition and Ibed Cisneros- Workers United.  I recognize many people in the crowd and chat with folks about some upcoming democracy-building activities we’re working on.  Some quotes from the speakers:

“The ‘divide and conquer’ mentality must not stand,” Andy Heidt, a union leader and candidate for State Assembly said. he then led a familiar chant –  “The people, united, will never be defeated!”

“Your issue is my issue,” Will Williams of the Madison Area Peace Coalition stated. “We’re fighting not just for immigrants or for the unions, we’re fighting for freedom.”

Marching up West Washington Avenue to the State Capitol.

The march begins and off we go accompanied by the sound of drums, chants and other instruments.  I connect with Ben and Sarah Manski and Andy Heidt who is running for the 48th District Assembly seat.  We march together, chatting about future plans and current events surrounding the Wisconsin Uprising while carrying the  Wisconsin Wave banner.  My son Sal is excited to be in the “parade” and is very curious about all the activity around him. Traffic is now backed up quite a bit as a couple thousand people have arrived to participate in the march. We reach the capitol and the wind is so strong that voices from the PA system  are carried away. We can’t get close enough because of our bike and trailer.  Sal says he wants a treat, so we walk over to State Street, buy some popcorn, sit on a bench and have a snack while enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and each others company.  I ask him if he had fun today.   He says “We had a very busy day daddy!  I had fun fighting the bad man in the capitol!” At first this seems funny.  Then the realization sets in that my three-year-old pretty much thinks all this stuff going on is the new state of normal. That to him, we always protest, we always fight.  When I was a kid I had no clue about the War In Vietnam and only a vague memory of Iran seizing US hostages.  Now I find myself growing angry that it has come to this; that Governor Walker and a radicalized right wing assembly/senate has given me no choice but to expend time and energy resisting the corporatization of the State that I truly love.  I wonder what memories my son will have of this time, and how participating in these events will shape his future. I am glad that we can participate together though, and share these experiences.

Father and Son on State Street after the rally.

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