Archive for the ‘Wisconsin Union’ Category

The Heart Shaped ballon at the WI capitol

Because we all know how evil heart shaped balloons are, right?  This is just beyond the pale.  Take a look at this excellent article by Rebecca Kemble at The Progressive.  Full Article here.

Outside the doors of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Leslie Peterson was reaching down into her shopping bag to remove a heart-shaped balloon so that her friend could take a photo of her with it. As soon as she pulled it out, someone came up behind her and repeatedly stabbed the balloon with a blade. “I’m sick of fishing these off the ceiling,” said the man with the round glasses and handlebar moustache as he walked away.

Shaken up by the sneak attack on her property, Leslie asked the man for hisname and identification. He did not respond to her so she asked him again, saying that she was going to file an incident report with the Capitol Police. At that point, he allegedly grabbed her and slammed her up against the door of a women’s bathroom. “I saw blood all over him and me. I didn’t know if he still had the knife, or whether or not I had been stabbed,” said Leslie.

There’s no doubt that charges are warranted in this case.  In fact, serious questions should be asked about why this person, Ron Blair, is not cooling his heels in jail at the moment.

More information from the Wisconsin State Journal here.

 

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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.

Empire State Building, Lighted to celebrate the passing of a bill allowing gay marriage.

 

Thanks New York for doing the right thing and granting same sex couples the right to marry.  Unfortunately, our formerly progressive state of Wisconsin is unlikely to follow suit in the near future.  Where republicans in NY voted their conscience, these days the Wisconsin GOP seems to lack that sort of human quality. You know, they’re too busy choking women, rolling back child labor laws, playing with guns, abusing protestors, removing consumer rental housing protections and communicating with the devil. And that’s just really the tip of the spear, so to speak.  There’s the massive increase in road spending at the expense of education, corporate givebacks, removal of collective bargaining rights, completely ignoring the minority party…and on and on. Anyway, back to the point of this post.

Excellent article on the subject by my friend Jeanne Devon at Mudflats:

Senator Tom Duane (D) got up and told of coming out to his Catholic parents when he was 18 years old. They were afraid for him, and sad. They thought he would be persecuted, and lonely, and never able to marry, and the victim of discrimination. It turns out that they were only partially right. He asked the Senate to vote yes for him and his partner Louis, and for all New Yorkers.

Senator Mark Grisanti, a Republican and practicing Catholic spoke of his difficulties. He had once opposed the bill and still objects to the use of the word “marriage” to describe a same-sex union. He apologized to those constituents who would be disappointed by his change of heart. But, he said, “a man can be wiser today than yesterday,” and as an attorney he could not “legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage.” His sense of justice and equality, and law trumped the way he was raised.

A critical last-minute yes vote came from another Republican Senator, Stephen Saland.  He had been undecided until the end and described his “emotional journey.” “My vote is a vote of conscience,” he said. “I am at peace with my vote.”

Read her whole article for interesting commentary.

Justice David Prosser: Probably shouldn't be granted a concealed carry permit.

What a special Saturday morning!  While the State of New York is recognizing the equal rights of gay couples by legalizing same sex marriage, newly re-elected “Gentleman Bachelor” Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is choking his female colleagues behind closed doors.  Perhaps if his GOP handlers gave him an opportunity to come out of the closet, the somewhat ambiguously gay Justice Prosser might stop lashing out violently at women.  This could very well be all about his personal frustration. But seriously, his alleged actions are egregious and he clearly demonstrates that he is unable to conduct himself professionally. Even more concerning is his apparent seething contempt for women.
Bill Lueders writes an excellent article detailing the incident at Isthmus

They say an argument that occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. (Justice Ann Walsh)Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.

Justice Prosser, contacted Friday afternoon by the Center, declined comment: “I have nothing to say about it.” He repeated this statement after the particulars of the story — including the allegation that there was physical contact between him and Bradley — were described. He did not confirm or deny any part of the reconstructed account.

On Justice Prosser being gay. Let me make this clear: I am not stating that David Prosser is gay. In fact, I’m sure the gay community would probably reject him. I am simply commenting on rumors that have been discussed for quite some time. They may be true, they may not. But in my sole  opinion, I vote David Prosser the Supreme Court Justice Most Likely to Be Arrested in A Truck Stop Restroom, While Tapping his foot and assuming a “wide stance”.

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.

Greed is the Enemy

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?  On the surface, there doesn’t seem a lot to be happy about in Wisconsin right now.  So what have those crafty corporatists been up to during the last few days? (photos at end of post) The republican majority called an Extraordinary Session in order to pass a reprehensible budget with as little interference as possible. This budget is so one sided, it may as well be a Teahadist fantasy come to life. The budget puts in motion a plan to award $2.3 billion in tax breaks for corporations over the next decade, strips $834 million from already cash-strapped public schools, expands the school voucher program that does nothing more than lay the groundwork for Education, Inc, cuts $250 million from the  UW System, and $71 million will evaporate from the Wisconsin technical college system. All of these cuts are necessary, says Governor Walker, because the state is broke. But it isn’t so broke that he’s willing to spend up to $2 Billion as a giveback to the Road Builders. To add insult to injury, the GOP snuck into the budget yet another special gift to private industry; James Rowan of The Political Environment Blogreports that:

…as the Joint Committee on Finance wound down towards the three-day Memorial Day weekend, it voted to add to Scott Walker’s proposed budget a fresh giveaway to the road-builders: a requirement that all 72 Wisconsin Counties hire private contractors for any job over $100,000.  And the measure bars counties and other municipalities from performing such work for another unit of government – – so a village can’t contract with a County to get an intersection rebuilt, for example, if the cost exceeds $100,000. All this work is to be privatized – – even though the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has said and documented that private contracting for road-building costs the public more money. These items are in the Omnibus Transportation Motion, sections 18-20, which was sprung as motion #352 before Joint Finance Friday around noon, and was sponsored by the co-chairs, Republicans Robin Vos and Alberta Darling.

There is no question that republicans are endeavoring to make the rich wealthier while ensuring that workers get less of an education and remain subservient to monied interests. Make no mistake; this is not a class war, this is a full-on putsch orchestrated by groups and individuals such as ALEC, The Koch Brothers, Americans For Prosperity, corporate-backed think tanks, large banks and others to destroy democratic institutions in order to facilitate the creation of a permanent majority.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in record time,  conveniently overturned Judge Marayann Sumi’s decision that voided the GOP’s attempt to remove collective bargaining rights for thousands of public employees.  It is now clear that the open meetings law is pointless and the conservative majority on Wisconsin’s high court is more interested in pandering to right wing idealogues than exercising the rule of law. Justice David Prosser, the conservative incumbent who nearly lost to little known challenger JoAnn Kloppenberg, should be especially ashamed. It wasn’t long ago that he desperately tried to characterize himself as independent. Everyone knew it was a sham, and his actions just serve to prove it. On her conservative colleagues, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson had this to say: “The majority justices make their own findings of fact, mischaracterize the parties’ arguments, misinterpret statutes, minimize (if not eliminate) Wisconsin constitutional guarantees, and misstate case law, appearing to silently overrule case law dating back to at least 1891”.  How convenient that Assembly GOP Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald threatened to put the collective bargaining measure back into the budget if the Supreme Court didn’t act on the original measure by Tuesday.  In Fitzwalkerstan, the Judicial Branch now serves the Legislative branch as evidenced by an e-mail obtained by WKOW- TV that suggests republican lawmakers knew the court would act ahead of the budget sessions.

Republicans Gone Wild – Encouraged shill candidates to run as democrats in order to force primaries. 

The Republican party fielded Republican candidates to run as Democrats in all six of the recall primaries, with the purpose of giving their incumbents an extra four weeks to campaign before facing general elections. The state’s recall law would require general elections July 12 unless there is more than one candidate in either party, in which case the election would be a primary, with the final general election held Aug. 9.  By engaging is such shenanigans, the self-described party of “ecomonic responsibility”  will fleece taxpayers to the tune of more than $465,000 by running fraudulent candidates and forcing primaries. This figure comes from election clerks in the recall districts. So much for concern about the mostly manufactured budget crisis.

Here’s a list of the fake democrats who should be ashamed of themselves:

Senate District 2 Incumbent: Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Allouez). Challengers: Democrat Nancy Nusbaum of De Pere, fake Democrat Otto Junkermann of Green Bay.

Senate District 8 Incumbent: Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). Challengers: Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-River Hills), fake Democrat Gladys Huber of Mequon.

Senate District 10 Incumbent: Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls). Challengers: Democrat Shelly Moore of River Falls, fake Democrat Isaac Weix of Menomonie.

Senate District 14 Incumbent: Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). Challengers: Rep. Fred Clark (D-Baraboo), fake Democrat Rol Church of Wautoma.

Senate District 18 Incumbent: Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac). Challengers: Democrat Jessica King of Oshkosh, fake Democrat John D. Buckstaff of Oshkosh.

Senate District 32 Incumbent: Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse). Challengers: Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), fake Democrat James D. Smith of La Crosse.

This is further proof that these people will stop at nothing to hold on to power while making  a mockery of the electoral process.

Tuesday’s Mass Rally on the Capitol Square. 

Once again thousands of citizens massed in Madison to protest the corporate republican-backed horrendous budget and the war on working families. As expected, the calls for fairness and pleas for compassion went unheeded. Just before the rally started at 5pm, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced that it had reversed Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi’s decision that voided the original measure.  Instead of feeling defeated, protestors and activists were outraged and looked toward the upcoming recall elections as the next battle.

Marty Biel, Executive Director of AFSCME referred to the capitol as a “marble whorehouse” and announced to republican legislators that “we’re going to be spending  our summer in your neighborhoods”.

Marty Biel, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 24.

Video of Reverend Willie Briscoe’s speech

Introduced by Mahlon Mitchell, Phil Nuenfeldt, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President speaks.

Ellen Carlson speaks about budget impacts on education

Kim Hoffman, middle school teacher and 17 year veteran of the Wisconsin Army National Guard

Francisca Miras, member of Youth Empowered in the Struggle of Voces de la Frontera.

Mahlon Mitchell, President of Firefighters Union and Jackie Pokorney, SEIU member

We’re not going anywhere. We will fight, we will recall, we will keep the Wisconsin Idea alive until we successfully return a measure of sanity to the legislature, and ultimately, the governor’s mansion. The immoral actions of the republican majority will not be forgotten. What they’ve created is a new generation of activists, and ultimately a new national progressive movement. On Thursday, thousands of labor activists rallied at the NJ State Capitol to protest my home state’s bid to severely restrict collective bargaining rights. Just more evidence that this is a nationwide effort to destroy unions and advance a radical right wing agenda. Say goodbye to women’s reproductive rights, strong public schools, and critical social safety nets.  Unless we organize and fight.

Photos from the Wisconsin rally on Tuesday.

Firefighters and supporters at the July 14th Wisconsin Capitol Rally

Phil Nuenfeldt, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO president.

Mary Bell, President of the Wisconsin Education Association Council

Ellen Carlson and Son, speaking about education

Middle School Teacher and Wisconsin Army National Guard Veteran

Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Firefighters Union.

Rev. Willie Briscoe

Francisca Miras, Voces de la Fronterra

Marty Biel, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 24

Mahlon Mitchell, Firefighters union president.

And finally…the inspiration for the article title:

Come back to the capitol..Tuesday..

UPDATE: June 13, 2pm. A measure to remove collective bargaining rights will be added to the budget if the state supreme court does not rule on the previous measure, voided by circuit court judge Maryann Sumi. The original measure was nullified because the GOP majority violated the open meetings law and failed to provide sufficient notice to the public before voting to take away 50 years of collective bargaining rights. More info at the Isthmus. 

Folks, this is it.  All of our countless days in the cold and heat protesting Governor Walker’s egregious budget, corporate giveaways, and the assault on Wisconsin families has led us to this moment.  This week, the Wisconsin Legislature will convene an “Extraordinary Session” in order to pass the budget. Read on below, but understand that this is a suspension of the regular rules, the purpose of which is to pass the budget with as little “interference” from the public as possible.  Only the GOP and Governor Walker know exactly what new horrors they will force upon the people of Wisconsin.  Now more than ever it is paramount that if you are within driving distance of the Wisconsin State Capitol on Tuesday, get here. Be heard. Try and make a difference. And be careful. There is much chatter about outside agitators manufacturing some sort of riot. Vigilance is important. See you there.

Re-post from  Badger Democracy.

A call to action to the citizens of Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Legislature will be convening in an “Extraordinary Session” at 11am on Tuesday morning. A legislative Fiscal Bureau Guide to “Special and Extraordinary Sessions”  explains these sessions have existed under Legislative Rule since 1977. In this case the Session was called by a majority of the Committees on Organization in both houses – perfectly legal under Legislative Rules. Under this “Extraordinary Session,” the Legislature is free to suspend most rules regarding bill notification, debate, and may consider the entire budget, as the purpose of the Session dictates. The Legislature may also expand the Extraordinary Session to whatever other business it chooses upon completion of the budget. This due to the fact that the Legislature “makes its own rules” (so to speak) under this type of session. As long as the Republicans have the votes, they can remain in Extraordinary Session, free to pass whatever they choose. The entire State Budget being taken up in Extraordinary Session is unprecedented. This type of session has only occurred 6 times since created in 1977 (see link above, page 15). Obviously, Republicans are going to attempt pushing as much through this session as possible before the recalls. This leads to two very important issues – and these are specific calls to action for anyone reading and sharing this blog.

1. To The Democratic Party – Enough of this nonsense of running “legitimate” Democratic challengers to force and lose in a primary. Your time, energy, and resources are needed to back the amazing people who have stepped forward in each of the Senate Districts we need to win. It will be paramount to retain the three Democratic seats likely up for recall as well. With the public, perception is reality – we need the “on-the-fence” voters to swing our way to win the recall elections and establish a base for the Walker recall. A play like this will create a “perception” of impropriety. We are better than that. Challenge the fake Democrats’ petitions under Wisconsin Statute with the GAB and Dane County DA, and hasten the recall elections – which need to happen sooner rather than later due to the radical action being taken in the Legislature. Don’t divide the party at such a crucial juncture in history. If you pursue this course of action, you have negated months of effort to be seen as above such self-destructive political games for short-term gain.

To All The Citizens of Wisconsin – This is a defining moment in the Progressive Movement and State history. Governor Walker, The Fitzgeralds, and GOP Legislators have committed many wrongs against the people of this state. Collective Bargaining aside; they have violated Wisconsin Law to hastily pass unjust legislation. They have given hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest and largest corporations. They have pushed a lazy and corrupt agenda in Wisconsin that was formulated decades ago in Corporate board rooms, bent on seizing control of every resource in the state for their own profit at taxpayer expense. They have cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the great Wisconsin Public School system, and put millions into a private school experiment with zero public accountability or obligation. They have broken their promises – spending is increasing in the Walker Budget (over the last biennium), taxes are going up on the working Wisconsinite (property and income), and they are raiding segregated funds to pay for their corporate – sanctioned policies. The Budget would require the State of Wisconsin to BORROW start-up funds for a speculative business program (state risk for private gain). All this justified by the lie that Wisconsin is “broke.” If you are reading this, you know what this Budget means for Wisconsin. Therefore:

This is a call for ALL THE CITIZENS OF WISCONSIN to participate in peaceful, mass, SILENT DEMONSTRATION THIS WEEK! Stand together in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, LaCrosse, Eau Claire, every city, town and village in stone silence during the protests. The message is simple – Scott Walker and the Republicans are silencing the voice of Democracy by closing the Capitol, closing the Legislature, and selling off Wisconsin to the highest bidder. When 11AM on Tuesday arrives – stop what you are doing, no matter where you are, and be silent. Be still. Be a rock. The power of this message will resonate to EVERY citizen. A violent mob will serve to damage our public perception and strengthen the GOP position – a massive wall of silence and stillness will impact every witness. Imagine the enormity of the message all across the state. Movement leaders should be called on to support this “SILENT STRIKE” in Wisconsin.

You are angry – if not, you haven’t been paying attention. There are calls for mass protests this week, the nature of which the Governor has planned for. It was “leaked” last week the story of hundreds of State Troopers being bussed in for added security. Reports of surveillance teams monitoring social media from GEF 2 (Hi!). Let me say this bluntly – Governor Walker is planning on violence. It plays directly into his hand, and strengthens it. We cannot win when we play into his plan – avert it. Stand strong, stand silent, stand united. Then sing, or chant, or hum – but remain peaceful in protest. Show the entire state by our numbers and our resolve that we will not resort to THEIR tactics to win. We win because we are right. We win because WE are Wisconsin.

11:oo AM Tuesday. Wherever you are we will stand together, strong and silent. Let your voices be heard through email, phone, letter, and civil discourse. Spread the message, share the strength of unity. Show them who we are. Support a “Silent Strike” for Wisconsin.

So what do YOU think?  Silent strike? Ramp up direct action? How do you see the outcome?  Leave a reply in comments.

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.