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Came across this video tonight.  It says a lot, and the truth rings through.  “Without labor, there is no capital.”

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Photo from The Progressive - Protestor arrested in WI Capitol.

7 months have passed since the Wisconsin Uprising began in earnest against the draconian polices and austerity measures levied by the Walker administration.  Tonight, over a thousand people massed at the State Capitol yet again.  It is pretty clear that this movement is far from over.   On Wisconsin. Read the following article by The Progressive’s Matthew Rothschild.

From The Progressive. Article by Matthew Rothschild:

“This is the people standing up saying, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore,’ ” said one of the demonstrators.

Turmoil returned to Madison, WI, on Thursday as 13 protesters ended up being arrested after refusing to leave the capitol building after another demonstration against Governor Scott Walker.

They were charged with unlawful assembly, and some also were charged with resisting arrest and obstructing an officer, said Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs.

And..

The arrests occurred after about 1,000 people massed in front of the capitol at 5:00 p.m. to protest the fact that Walker’s cuts in take-home pay were actually taking effect today.

Bill Franks, a senior steward for AFT-Wisconsin, told those in the crowd to back their unions.

“We’re going to redemocratize Wisconsin,” Franks said, to loud applause. “The dogs of recall are on the governor’s tail. I say it’s time to release the hounds.

Wisconsin Total Recall. Photo by T. Evers.

Democrats made a clean sweep against the fake democrats fielded by the Republican Party of Wisconsin in order to force primaries and grant the republican incumbents an extra month to campaign…and grant them the  opportunity to receive plenty of money via independent expenditures from the likes of Americans for Prosperity and other corporate-backed special interests.

Despite GOTV efforts by local republican parties, the GOP failed.  Is Governor Walker  paying attention while lounging on his taxpayer-funded patio quaffing cloyingly insipid Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, a beer/lemonade mix from Wisconsin’s number one faux craft brewery. Gotta love a Wisconsin Governor who actively attempts to screw the vibrant and independent craft breweries at the behest of behemoth SAB MillerCoors. Never mind the deliciousness of him tweeting pictures of his sorority-girl style drink, then following it up with a photo of his…toothbrush.  At first I thought his twitter account had been hacked. Unfortunately, he’s that shallow.

Anyway, back to the recall elections.

A couple days before the election Wisconsin Right to Life sponsored 10’s of thousands of robo calls to likely voters in what many democrats assert to be an attempt at voter suppression. Here’s the script of the calls that democratic voters received:

“Hello, this is Barbara Lyons from Wisconsin Right to Life. I’m calling today to let you know that you will be receiving an absentee ballot application for the upcoming recall elections in the mail in the next few days. These recall elections are very important and voting absentee will ensure that your vote is counted and that we can maintain a pro-family, pro-life state senate. We hope that we can count on you to complete that application and send it back to us within 7 days.

Now why would anyone send an absentee ballot back to Wisconsin Right to Life rather than say, the county or municipal clerk? Looking a little deeper, the phone number used for the robo calls originates in VA, and it appears to be a number used by The National Right to Life Committee.

Barbara Lyons had this to say to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel when challenged:

In a telephone interview, Lyons said the calls, “as best as we know,” were targeted to friends and supporters of the organization. She said tens of thousands of calls were made.

Right.  That’s why scores of democrats were called. Nice try.

Much thanks goes out to every individual and group who has been involved in the recall effort thus far.  We Are Wisconsin just reported that they managed to field the volunteers necessary to knock on  37,857 doors during the  Get Out The Vote campaign.  This is huge.

By any measure, turnout in the recall elections was huge.  Even when compared to fall primaries, it was impressive.  Former Oshkosh deputy mayor Jessica King received nearly 20,000 votes against her republican-recruited fake democrat opponentJohn Buckstaff. In  her first bid for senate in 2008 she received just 1849 votes in an uncontested democratic primary.  In the 2008 general election that saw her pitted against the now sex-scandal-embroiled Randy Hopper, she received  41,688 votes-this during a presidential election that saw enormous turnout around the state.

Only one fake democrat had a respectable showing.  Isaac Weix, of Menomonie,  realized 46 percent of the vote against legitimate democrat Shelly Moore.  This was in large part due to a GOTV effort by the St. Croix Republican party which used automated phone calls and emails to encourage Republicans to vote for Weix, the faker.

Rep. Jen Schilling, D-LaCrosse, won by over 70%.  She’ll now take on republican incumbent Sen. Dan Kapanke in the Aug. 9th general election.

The winners of Tuesday’s Democratic primary include Moore; Shilling; Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, who will run against Olsen; King, who will run against Hopper; former Brown County Executive Nancy Nusbaum, who will run against Cowles; and Rep. Sandra Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay, who will run against Darling.

Democrats Demand that Scott Walker and the Republican Party Must Reimburse Taxpayers for Primary forced by Fake Democrats.

In a press release issued yesterday, Mike Tate, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair stated “The Republicans have brazenly lied to Wisconsin and they must repay the taxpayers for their fraud,” he added “For a party that pretends to care about the tax burden of working families, they are sure willing to spend their money to finance pure political gain. Scott Walker’s GOP is sitting on mountains of corporate cash – they should put their money where their mouth is and repay Wisconsin for their outrageous conspiracy.

All six actual Democrats cruised to victory over their sham opponents. Reports have put the cost of these sham primaries at more than $400,000.

The next battle will take place August 9th, when the Democrats attempt to wrest control of the senate from the republicans. If successful, this will create a stalemate that will prevent the GOP from further remaking Wisconsin in Arizona’s image.  Then, it is on to the main event, The Recall of Governor Scott Walker.

State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee

UPDATE: From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Greenbay WI man arrested for battery.

Around 1 p.m. Tuesday, a group of protesters was participating in their daily singalong in the Capitol rotunda, when two men along with former state Sen. David Zien began interrupting their singing.

According to Sue Trace, one of the participants in the singalong, Zien yelled “Walker for president” while two men draped Zien’s “Don’t Tread On Me” flag over the singers’ heads.

The two men were Green Bay resident Henry Rahr and Shorewood, Minn., resident Eugene German.

Michael Dickman, 50, said Rahr and German were bumping into him along with other singers and grabbing their banners. Dickman said he tried to pull the flag away from Rahr. Dickman said Rahr then put him in a headlock and punched him in the face, chipping his front tooth.

For months, peaceful citizens have gathered in the Wisconsin State Capitol at lunch time to sing. The local media has covered this activity widely and almost universally, save for the likes of WIBA right wing radio instigator Vicki McKenna, have characterized it as a fun, family-friendly event.  Today, the sing-a-long turned violent and it wasn’t because of the singers. Former republican senator and gun activist Dave Zein showed up with thugs in tow and assaulted a participant after aggressively taunting the protestors with a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.  How fitting that the alleged aggressor happened to be wearing a brown shirt.

From Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee,  via Facebook this afternoon:

“One way to ensure that the peaceful protests at the Capitol aren’t peaceful anymore is for a Republican ex-Senator to come in with his friends, one of whom punches a peaceful protestor in the face. Which just happened. Everyone should condemn this, especially Walker & Republican leadership.”

So what happened?

Tweets about the incident:

“Cop count last week @Solidarity Singalong, 5-10 officers at any time. 2day during violent Tea Party, gun nut attack? ZERO!!! #wiunion”

“Solidarity friends confirm Tea bagger put a singer in a headlock & threw at least 1 punch. Frmr Rep St Sen Dave Zwien part of assault party”

“a singer tried to grab their sign. One of the men put the singer in a headlock, punched him and broke his tooth.”

“Dave Zien raced his wheelchair around grnd level singing circle. He forced singers to move back as he nearly ran over everyone’s feet.”

“Singalong friend: “The cameraman (Fox 6 News) was yukking it up with the assaulters and Dave Zien after the incident.”

“FoxNews 6 from Milwaukee was filming the whole time. There wasn’t a single police officer in sight!”

“Maybe if law enforcement had been monitoring Teabagger social networks instead of #wiunion, they could have prevented today’s attack. #wiall”

From Solidarity Sing-A-Long participant CS via the sing-a-long group on facebook:

I was there and saw exactly what Kati described. Those tough men who aggressively swiped their “Don’t Tread on Me” banner over our faces while we were singing? . . . they were doing that to WOMEN, almost entirely, just 2 men were singing along the rail on the upper floor where I was! I say to them “Don’t Tread on US Please.”

This is so sad-I’ve come to the Singalong almost every day for many weeks. I sing to restore my spirit. Always a peaceful, good-natured event; there are often small children around. Thankfully, not today.

It’s doubly disturbing that they chose to attack us on the final day of debate on Conceal Carry. I fear for Wisconsin if there are many people like them.

Former Sen. Dave Zein in the wheelchair, alleged right wing extremists standing with him. Photo: Anna Liska, Facebook.

And that’s the thing; the Solidarity-Sing-A-Long is  intended to be a peaceful, family-friendly event. I’m sure there are many concealed carry advocates that don’t believe that violence is the answer. Unfortunately for this guy, and double so for the victim, it appears that the perpetrator damaged a tooth during the assault which likely elevates his potential charge to a felony.  The only good news is that if this guy is convicted, he won’t be able to own a firearm, much less carry a concealed weapon.  And former State Sen. Dave Zein should be ashamed of himself for apparently leading those engaged in such a thuggish assault on peaceful protest singers. What would have happened if this guy were packing heat?  One of the mantra’s of the concealed carry set is that they are responsible law-abiding citizens.  The problem with that logic is that it fails to address hot heads, tyrants and bullies who have been fortunate enough to maybe not have had negative police contact…yet.  So after more than 125 days of protesting the only assault appears to be perpetrated by a gun rights activist and tea party member. Hopefully Gov. Walker and GOP leadership should condemn the violence perpetrated by their supporters.

More info from Kati Walsh via a facebook note about the incident:

And the tweet that REALLY angered me? The guy that defended Solidarity Singers receives a disorderly conduct ticket.  Really? Because if the police would have been there, then a citizen wouldn’t have had to step up to make sure others were safe!

“”Pizza Box Mike received a citation for Disorderly Conduct. He acted in our defense. The charge should be dropped immediately.” – NDS”

From a Solidarity Sing Along participant:  

I wrote this email to channel 3  of my account of the events, If you have anything to add, as there were many observers, please feel free to comment below:

I was at the capitol as a participant in the Solidarity Sing Along today from 12 to 1pm.  There were 3 Tea Party protestors there during most of the hour of the sing along.  I was on the second floor balcony of the rotunda hanging one of those long vertical banners down.  The tea partiers had their “Don’t Tread on Me” snake flag and the two ambulatory tea partiers were walking around, holding up their flag for most of the hour– other people told me this, I hadn’t noticed them until the incident b/c they were up on the third floor for most of the hour and I was busy reading the lyrics from the songbook.  Meanwhile the third teabagger was on the ground floor of the singing circle going around, supposedly running over people’s toes in his wheelchair, and people had to step back as he was coming too close to them saying ” Walker should be president”…

The singing went on peacefully as it always does right up until the last few minutes, right before 1pm when the sing along is over.  The teabaggers with the flag came onto the second floor and and hung their flag over the balcony and then they began walking around the circle holding their flag over the balcony.  As they would encounter a participant in the sing along, they would just continue walking, and would drape their flag right over people’s faces and/or banners if they were holding one.  When these two men continued around the circle to where I was standing, holding my banner, I took a few steps away from the balcony edge still holding my banner as a way to prevent these men from putting their flag over me, but they continued to do it anyway.

Just as they were draping their flag across my face, a member of the sing along came over, told the men to stop it, and pulled their flag down.  instantly, the shorter tea partier grabbed this guy in a headlock and punched him in the mouth which resulted in a broken tooth. The guy who got punched did not initiate any physical force against either of the tea partiers holding the flag, he just was grabbing and trying to pull down their flag, never touching either of the men until he was trying to get himself free from the headlock. Some more sing along people came over and tried to break up the fight.  moments later the police came upstairs to assess the situation.  Several eyewitnesses including myself gave statements to the police and everyone who was involved in the assault.

I was standing right there next to one of the tea partiers and saw the whole thing.  This was only my second time at the sing along, and am saddened by the violence that occured today.  This is the 15th week I believe of the sing along Mondays through Fridays, and the first time there was ever a violent incident instigated by the opposing side.  they were very hostile and were trying to provoke and get a reaction from us.  why would they drape their flag right over our faces, touching us, bumping their elbows into the sides of our heads as they walk across us to show their flag?  They could have stayed in their own space and made their statement, or they could have even gone into the middle of the circle if all they wanted to do was make a statement.  The Solidarity sing along is a peaceful, positive, fun and energetic hour.  my grandma has taken my 5 year old daughter many times over the past several weeks when I was still teaching during the school year and it was always a fun and safe place to bring elderly or young children and everyone in between.  Today was a sad day for the sing along.

Another point is that several singers saw a fox news affiliate- fox 6 out of Milwaukee, and claimed that their cameras were rolling before the fight took place and that they may have it on video.  There was some speculation that these people were hired or encouraged to come and cause trouble and disrupt our sing along, and they had the fox cameras there to record it as a way to put negative spin on the events at the capitol.

Thank you and I hope that this and other similar stories are covered in a fair and balanced manner to inform the public.

Camden, NJ's present, Wisconsin's future?

 Madison, WI. Madison city officials and housing advocates are outraged by new GOP legislation stripping municipalities of decades worth of housing protections. On May 26th, Senate bill 107 was introduced with the passionate backing of the Apartment Association of South Central Wisconsin, as well as the construction and building industry, and is on the fast track to be approved by the republican majority in the legislature.

From the Capital Times:

The bill would prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances that limit a residential landlord’s ability to obtain and use personal information from tenants and prospective tenants, including income and source of income, occupation, court records, rental history, and credit information, according to an analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau.

City regulations that would be voided if the bill becomes law include:

— A city ordinance that prevents landlords from showing an apartment for future rental until at least a quarter of the lease is up. A city alder’s proposal to expand that time even further would also be dead in the water.

— A city ordinance that prohibits landlords from requiring Social Security numbers in applications; this is one way that landlords can run credit checks but also screen out undocumented immigrants.

— A city ordinance that forbids landlords from denying an application based solely on minimum income requirements or a minimum income-to-rent ratio; landlords typically like to rent to people whose incomes are around three times more than rent.

— An ordinance that prevents landlords from denying housing based on an applicant’s record for convictions older than two years.

— A law that prevents landlords from discriminating against potential tenants or refusing to rent to them because they are on public assistance.

— A city ordinance that requires landlords to give tenants at least a 24-hour notice before showing an apartment.

Supporters say the bill ends decades of regulations that have gone too far. Senate Republican Frank Lasee of De Pere says property owners are responsible for the criminal activities of their tenants so it only makes sense to let them consider tenants’ previous records. Under current law they can – for the previous two years.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin says the bill simply rolls back decades of thought into Madison’s fair housing ordinances. Soglin said the state is trying to take over things that should be handled locally and further lambasted the GOP for proclaiming that they are the party of small government and local control.

Sounds somewhat less than apocalyptic on the surface, but the reality of the matter is quite dire. Under this scenario it is more than likely that owners and operators of newer buildings in more desirable neighborhoods will be able to exclude tenants who receive public assistance, have previous criminal convictions, and also the working poor.  Meanwhile, owners of aging housing stock will have no choice but to rent to those excluded tenants in high concentrations creating new poverty pockets in the city.  Couple this with the GOP’s rabid assault on social safety nets that include reductions to the popular badgercare health insurance program for low to moderate income families, medicare, reductions in foodstamps, massive cuts to school budgets, county crisis programs, further reductions in shared revenue and drastic cuts to the federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program, and you have a recipe for disaster.  The potential crisis is exacerbated further by Governor Walker’s rollback of the Wisconsin Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and foregoing the inflationary adjustment on the Homestead Tax Credit. Both of these amount to a tax increase on low income families.

So while the Wisconsin GOP offers hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate givebacks, they are essentially adopting policy that may contribute to the creation of ghettos the likes of which Wisconsin has never before seen, while further burdening a population that already has little in the way of resources.  Next up will surely be massive increases in law enforcement and prison spending as an already desperate populace resorts to crime in order to feed and house their families.  Never mind that two years of technical school tuition is far less expensive than prison.  But providing that tuition would be considered “socialism”.

The future of Wisconsin cities under GOP rule? Coming to a neighborhood near you

What the GOP doesn’t understand is that poverty is not a choice for some people, yet they do nothing to address the underlying issues that contribute to it.  It’s really easy to make statements like “Well, why don’t you get a job?” or “Hey, you should go to school”.  The truly poor are in crisis every day and it is all consuming.  When your immediate problem involves buying groceries for your children and finding money to pay rent, school might as well exist in Antarctica.

Again, this plan to roll back decades worth of rental housing protections is nothing more than a financial thank you gift from the GOP to the Shelter Industry. In the early 2000’s I was a member of the City of Madison Housing Committee, Chairman of the CDBG Commission, and Chairman of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, where we worked on housing-related legislation. I’m appalled that in one fell swoop the Wisconsin Republican Party has unraveled years of work with the  purpose of discriminating against those using public assistance while maximizing profits for landlords.

Perhaps my commentary about GOP-created ghettos is a bit alarmist, but the possibility certainly will exist for that to happen. You won’t find low income people who use  section 8 vouchers in downtown neighborhoods; you’ll find them concentrating in aging housing stock that might otherwise go unrented.   Neighborhoods like Allied, the Former Broadway-Simpson, Darbo-Worthington, and Thompson drive by East Town Mall will all experience a high concentration of tenants who are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.

In 1996 I moved to Madison from my home state of NJ.  I was born in the decaying former industrial city of Trenton, and raised just outside the city limits in a town that was 96% white.  Trenton’s population at the time was nearly 70% minority. Housing regulations were poor, with not many protections for renters.  Buildings were allowed to fall into decay while landlords were able to continue renting them to folks who had no other options. Whole neighborhoods were destroyed through lack of attention/oversight by city government and even until this day the city of Trenton continues to struggle with massive poverty, low property values, high crime and high unemployment.

Madison seems like another world entirely.  When first moving to this city, particular neighborhoods were described to me as “bad”.  When I drove through them I was shocked…at the well kept lawns, landscaping, and buildings in good condition. Why the contrast?  Because ordinances are in place to hold owners accountable, to prevent them from becoming slumlords, and the city encourages scattered site subsidized housing.

This is what happens when the Republican Party is so hell bent on rewarding political contributors that they don’t (or won’t) see the potential for neighborhood destruction in their own cities.  Rather than attempt to emulate the successes of Madison in their own districts-Madison leads the state in low unemployment numbers, quality of life, culture, and a host of other things- they’d rather destroy it out of spite.

If only the GOP would understand that low income folks are human beings too.

Welcome to Walkerville, Population: Awesome.

While the national media relentlessly covers Weiner-palooza, (if only the man himself had the sense to keep it covered) the Wisconsin Uprising continues.  Evoking comparison to the “Hoovervilles” of the 1920’s, an encampment dubbed “Walkerville” has sprung up on the Wisconsin Capitol square in order to keep up the pressure as legislators work through the Governor’s Budget.  If passed intact, the budget will provide millions of dollars in corporate giveaways while increasing taxes on Wisconsin’s working poor.

Tents on the square

The encampment is well organized and each day  has a particular theme. Yesterday’s focus was on Public Services and began with a march involving over a thousand nurses, police officers, teachers, steelworkers and concerned citizens led by Madison Firefighters around the capitol square.   The procession stopped at M&I Bank, which received approximately $1.7 million in federal TARP funds, and shouts of “Banks got bailed out, We got sold out!” could be heard reverberating off the glass, brick and steel of nearby buildings. Protesters flowed into the lobby at an alarming rate until they were physically removed by police. 2 protestors were arrested.

If brains was lard, Scott Walker couldn't grease a skillet.

In the evening, unions sponsored a “Mock Listening Session” in order to inform the public about services they provide. The panel featured  the US history-challenged Sarah Palin, David Koch, Governor Walker and a host of union characters like Rhonda the Road Worker and Helen the Healthcare Worker. Each of the various characters explained how their jobs are essential to maintaining infrastructure, keeping our neighborhoods safe, and providing care to the sick.  More info from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO blog here.

Mock Panel with Sarah Palin, David Koch, Gov. Walker and others.

Two Journalists Arrested At Wisconsin State Capitol. 

Meanwhile, more sinister events were unfolding inside the capitol building where two journalists were arrested. Watch the following video captured by a bystander to see how the Walker Administration views members of the press.

Burlington, Vermont based videographer Sam Mayfield and her assistant were arrested by State Police while shooting footage for a documentary about collective bargaining rights.  A police officer waved the two into the capitol when he learned they were members of the press, then completely turned on them when he realized they were capturing video of police pushing protestors.

From Bluecheddar.net

Sam Mayfield describes the incident, saying there was an entrance to the Capitol that was open. They walked in and in her own words:

“clearly (the situation had) already escalated…this was evidenced by him (the officer) running at people who were walking into the Capitol telling them to leave. He was forcefully grabbing and touching people who were literally just walking past.”

“He grabbed me. He told me to leave.” Mayfield identified herself as a journalist and he flagged her through. The officer also flagged Alex through after she explained she was working with Sam. Alex decided to stay in the area and film what was happening because, “he was being very aggressive with the protesters, physically.”

The officer pushed as many protesters as he could out the doors. He then pursued Alex, pushed her into the wall, and proceeded to handcuff and arrest her. He told her that when she tried to keep her camera from falling on the ground she was resisting arrest.

The two reporters were charged with “disorderly conduct”. Alex says she thinks she was arrested because she was filming a police officer pushing people out the door. Sam says she was told she was obstructing the officer’s ability to make an arrest. She says what actually happened is that she caught Alex’ falling camera, and started to use it. And then things changed:

“I think that when he saw she and I working together on that level,  he actually dragged Alex and dropped her to the ground …and he ran after me..I asked the cop “Why are we being arrested?” I really don’t understand at all. As soon as Alex gave me her camera he said, “You’re going to be arrested, too.” and then he grabbed my arm.

Both journalists were arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct.

On several occasions while working on stories for themudflats.net, I’ve been inside the capitol with press credentials. Generally, the police have acted professionally except for one incident where an imported rural officer confronted me and attempted to issue an order for me to stop taking photos.  I politely refused and showed him my press pass to which he responded “I don’t care”.  He then became distracted by others and walked away from me. Based on that experience, Sam Mayfield’s arrest doesn’t surprise me.

Wisconsin Republicans Back Spoiler Candidates in Recall Elections. 

Realizing that their recalled senators are deeply in trouble, the Wisconsin Republican Party has openly supported the recruitment of spoiler candidates in order to force primaries, affording the incumbents additional time to campaign. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the plan for Republican spoilers to run as Democrats in primaries for seats held by Republican Sens. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon.  They know their senate majority is at risk and are now openly playing dirty in order to continue forcing their agenda on the people of Wisconsin.

Stephan Thompson, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement Monday that Republican state senators face recalls for doing their jobs, unlike Democratic senators who he says deserted their constituents for Illinois.

Thompson said the Republican senators are busy crafting a state budget, which puts them at a disadvantage to challengers to have time to campaign.

“Because of this disadvantage, and the outrageous nature of elected officials facing recall for standing up for a balanced budget, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has advocated that protest candidates run in Democratic primaries to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved,” he said in the statement.  Essentially, this would force democratic challengers to spend money on bogus primary challenges instead of saving it for the general election.

Sen. Mark Miller, Senate Minority Leader,  called the effort a “partisan, coordinated attack on democracy.”

“These dirty Nixonion tactics have no place in Wisconsin,” he said in a statement Monday. “And we don’t need to waste taxpayer money on phony elections to help these Republicans duck the voters and needlessly delay these elections.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained letters sent by local Republican parties to “fellow conservatives” asking them to support fake Democratic candidates.

Fake Democratic candidates.  Wisconsin citizens certainly deserve better than this.  The party of so-called fiscal responsibility, who balked loudly about the expense of the recall elections in the first place, has no qualms about increasing that financial burden to taxpayers as long as they themselves are the beneficiary.

 

 

 

Photo via Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

Hundreds of tents have been pitched on the capitol square in Wisconsin and they appear to be here for the long haul.  We Are Wisconsin, a coalition of labor groups, activists and others has organized this tent city in protest to Governor Walker’s budget, and it is quite the site to behold.  Families, young people, firefighters, police officers, teachers and the working poor- they’re all here in force, united against the Walker administration.

From the Wisconsin State AFL- CIO Blog:

At 7:00 pm on Saturday, June 4, the first tents of Walkerville were erected. Hundreds of Wisconsinites are protesting Scott Walker’s poor budget choices by forming a tent city around the Capitol.  Students, workers, and concerned citizens brought sleeping bags, pillows, tents and good spirits to kick off a continuous protest until the budget is passed.

Community members of Wisconsin are raising their voice to protect education, public services and communities in Wisconsin. 

Walkerville began with a welcome meeting. Peter RickmanUW-Madison Law Student and Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA) member, outlined the rules and regulations of the community so that citizens of Walkerville can continue to hold their elected officials accountable safely.

DSC02973

Rickman also encouraged protestors to visit local business while protesting.

“They are who we are fighting for,” explainedRickman.  “We are fighting for working families, small businesses and better communities in Wisconsin.”

The night continued with live music from local artist Owen Mays.

Helena White, a speech and language clinician at East High School in Madison came to Walkerville with her two sons.  A member of the Madison Teachers Inc. White explained that she came to Walkerville because the budget negatively impacts every member of her family.

We are here to raise our voice against this budget and tell Scott Walker that the people do not support his policies. This budget will affect my teaching environment by increasing my case load to a point where each child is not getting the best education possible.  As a union member, I stand to lose my rights and my voice on the job.  Both my sons attend public schools in Madison and their education is on the line. 

DSC02898

Sara Lam, a TAA member in the Curriculum and Instruction Department at UW-Madison expressed that Walker’s cuts will negatively affect the quality of the program. The Department, which is one of the best in its field, may lose some of its best faculty due to Walker’s policies.

Lam, who is also 30 weeks pregnant, explained that people were surprised that she still came out:

“To me it was not even a question.  This budget is going to negatively impact the health and wellness of thousands of Wisconsinites.  One night outside was not an issue.”

DSC02979

Walkerville will continue until the budget is passed.  There will be a pre-set program atnoon and 7:00 pm each day.
For pictures of Walkerville click here.

For more information on Walkerville click here and continue to check back to the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Blog.

USS Iowa - BB61

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have perished in our nation’s service. Around the country, people will gather to remember the ultimate sacrifice that our brothers and sisters have made for all of us.  Though I don’t support the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, I very much support the troops involved. Many Americans seem to have forgotten that this is a time of remembrance and not just the ceremonial beginning of summer to be celebrated with cookouts, beer, and fireworks. Earlier today someone told me “Happy Memorial Day!”  The incongruity of that statement struck me. I mean, would someone have the temerity to say “Merry 9/11”?

Memorial day weekend, for me, has customarily been a solemn time.  Always, I think of my father and grandfather.

My Father, Ronald J. DePula. 1938-1982

The son of Italian immigrants, he enlisted in the US Navy at 17, trained at the Great Lakes Recruiting command and was billeted aboard the USS Iowa, the lead ship of the Iowa class fast battleships.  While serving on the “Big Stick”, my dad was a bosun’s mate 3rd class, he boxed-and won-a couple of fleet championships and ultimately he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for saving a life while he himself was in severe danger.  As I understand it, the Iowa was refueling while underway in heavy seas when a fellow shipmate was injured and went overboard. My dad, without thinking twice, grabbed lifesaving gear and went in after him. He recovered the unconscious sailor and kept him afloat until they were rescued.

My father left this life early when I was but 10 years old. As a man, I never had an opportunity to truly know him.  I’ve only been able to piece things together from conversations with relatives, recounted stories, and from the few items of his that I’ve kept through the years.

I believe that my Dad was probably at his happiest while serving in the Navy.  He loved vessels of any type and my most vivid memories of him involve a trip to the South Street Seaport in Philadelphia to see the Tall Ships during the US Bicentennial celebration in the mid 1970’s.  I was perhaps 7 or 8, but I distinctly remember being in awe of the many  fully-rigged sailing vessels on display and my fathers encycolpedia-like knowledge of all things nautical. To this day I always think of him when I gaze at the sea, see ships, or read about anything having to do with the Navy.   Here’s to you Dad. You are missed.

My grandfather, Pasquale C. Aversano 1920-2009.

If I could be half the man my grandfather was, I’d be content. He was born into poverty and raised by a loving family in Trenton New Jersey’s Chambersburg Section. Chambersburg, or “The ‘Burg”, was a close-knit Italian immigrant neighborhood in a city that once was a major industrial center.  His father, Salvatore, spoke no english and could not read. He eventually worked for Roebling Steel, the company that provided the cable for the Golden Gate and George Washington bridges among others. Finding work during those years was difficult for Italians because they had a reputation as labor agitators. As the only male in a family with six sisters, my grandfather left school after 8th grade in order to help support his family.  As a child, he shined shoes on street corners, sold newspapers and also delivered heavy blocks of ice to iceboxes around the city.  Mere days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was one of the first neighborhood men to enlist in the US Army.

Emory Ave, in Chambersburg, Trenton, NJ

He never spoke much about his service beyond stories of boot camp and a later stateside assignment guarding Italian prisoners of war. I know he was wounded, the circumstances of which I am not privy to. After the war, he married, had two children and built a solid foundation for his kids, and grandchildren.  His work ethic was incomparable, retiring as a Union Bricklayer after 45 years.  After my father died, he assumed that role.   One of my fondest memories of him involves the shoe shine box he built when he was a child in order to make extra money for his family.  Before any important event;  communions, weddings, funerals, boy scout ceremonies, and more, he’d break out that kit and set about shining shoes as if it were a solemn ritual. He taught me how to spit shine my shoes and would offer bits and pieces about his life that enthralled me.  Later, as I got older, he’d offer advice.  He was never one to really share his deepest feelings, but during those now cherished moments he was at his most candid.  In January of 2009 he passed away.  After  the funeral and graveside military honors, my grandmother gave me his ancient shoeshine box.  I took it home to Wisconsin, and didn’t open it for months.  Finally, on a particularly troubling day I opened the box and discovered all his tools, polishes, dyes, brushes and rags neatly arrayed as they’d always been.  The scent wafting from the box immediately transported me back to when I was 10, and the world was new. I spent 2 hours conditioning, then spit shining a brand new pair of boots.  And I cried.

So today I’m reflecting on the deep gratitude that we all should have for those that have served, and more specifically, the contributions that my own family has made. It’s not just about grilling out, and gathering with friends in order to relax and drink beer.  It is a day to remember.

Excellent article by Bill Lueders from Isthmus regarding the over-inflated and inexplicable original vs. actual cost estimate for so-called “damages” to the Wisconsin State Capitol. It should come as no surprise that the $7.5 million original estimate was completely fabricated.  The correct number? $269,550. The bulk of which is for re-seeding/sodding the Capitol lawn. This number pales in comparison to the nearly $7.8 million in increased and completely unnecessary security costs incurred by the Walker Administration through March 13th.  Fabricating numbers is turning out to be something of a specialty by Scott Walker’s people.  From woefully inaccurate crowd estimates, budget numbers that are open to interpretation and the announcement that $600 million has been “found”, there should be no surprise that so many people distrust these folks.

Excerpts from the article at Isthmus:

At a press conference this morning at which these numbers were released, DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch sought to provide damage control regarding the original damage estimate. He said the $7.5 million amount had been “a purely preliminary figure” based on what information was available at the time.

Included in the materials distributed to the press was a March 4 memo (PDF) to Huebsch explaining that this higher estimate was “based on the experience of” a single manager with the DOA’s Division of State Facilities. Also included was a copy of Huebsch’s subsequent letter (PDF) to a Dane County judge, explaining why he used the erroneous $7.5 million figure in testimony to the court.

So come on out to Saturday’s rally on the Capitol Square and express your thoughts on the continued inaccuracies, half-truths and outright lies that continue to originate in Governor Walker’s office.

Protestors at the Capitol- NOT damaging the building.

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!