Posts Tagged ‘governor scott walker’

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.

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Gov. Scott Walker

As if it should come as any surprise, today we learn that complaints have been filed by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign against Gov. Scott Walker and several donors for exceeding the $10,000 campaign finance limit.  The largest donor was Village of  River Hills Trustee Michael White,  who gave a whopping $15,000.  Curious about the type of person who can afford to exceed campaign giving limits by $5,000, I looked into it further.   Take a look at Mr. White’s twitter feed to catch a glimpse into the life of this contributor.

Here are some excerpts:

wiscwhitehouse Michael H White

Cocktails in Mequon 2nite, golf tourny w/dinner 2morrow, wedding Sat, Phnx to see Sara Rose, Brett & Cheri Sun am, Milw Weds midnite. Whew!
wiscwhitehouse Michael H White

Home alone for Village meeting tonight. Back to CO and mountains 7AM tomorrow.

wiscwhitehouse Michael H White

Surfing financial web pages from office
Mostly innocuous, yes, but what other village board members have the ability to jet back and forth from Colorado to attend meetings.
Mr. White owns the Rite Hite Corporation. Rite-Hite employs 1,400 people worldwide and maintains more than 30 representative organizations in 100 locations throughout North America, Asia, Europe, and South America. Manufacturing facilities are located in Memphis, TN; Dubuque, IA; Denver, CO; Toronto, Ontario; Kunshan, China, Volkmarsen, Germany; and Jawor, Poland.
One would expect an elected official to be familiar with campaign finance limits.  It is also a mystery how the Walker campaign managed to over-look contributions in excess of the established limits. Governor Walker, who constantly attempts to draw attention to his fiscal prowess,  obviously fails at managing his own campaign accounts.  Yet he is trusted with our tax dollars.
There’s a pattern here.  Not long ago, Bill Gardner, CEO of the Wisconsin Southern Railroad, was convicted of two felony campaign law violations for “encouraging” employees to donate money to Walker, and then reimbursing them from the company coffers.  Incidentally, the Wisconsin Southern Railroad was awarded a state contract worth millions by the Walker Administration. And today we learn that Ted Nickel, the State Insurance Commissioner appointed by Walker, also exceeded the campaign giving limits.  Political paybacks are alive and well in Wisconsin.
For more information see the Wisconsin State Journal. 

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.

Protestors outside the Housing Conference - Photo credit Karen Rivedal- WI State Journal

In an arrogant display directed at protestors who were banging on walls in opposition to Walker’s GOP plan to gut rental housing regulations, Walker quipped “That’s opportunity knocking” to the  attendees of  an annual housing conference at UW-Madison.  The audience erupted into cheers.

They should all be ashamed of themselves, but I suspect they lack the necessary capacity for empathy. It’s all about profits. Nothing more.

 

 

From the Wisconsin State Journal

“That’s opportunity knocking for all of us now.”

Gov. Scott Walker got his biggest applause line for that off-hand remark, made midway through his keynote address Thursday at an annual housing conference at UW-Madison.

It came right after four hard, booming knocks — clearly audible over Walker’s words in the packed Fluno Center auditorium — as protesters opposed to the governor’s budget-cutting policies pounded their disdain on the outside walls of the building.

Walker’s quick improvisation broke the rising tension, as hearty laughter and clapping from the rows of housing industry professionals briefly drowned out the competing clamor.

Follow the rest of the story here.

Citizens should be outraged that Governor Walker thinks stripping hard-fought consumer protections is funny.

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.

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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. 

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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.

WI GOP Legislative Aid Under Investigation for Voter Fraud

Madison, WI. Citing rampant and mostly-nonexistant voter fraud, The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Senate passed one of the most restrictive Voter ID measures in the entire country yesterday. Republican Senator Frank Lassee implied that democrats benefit from voter fraud. “Who benefits from the abuse? I think those are good questions to ask,” he said. “One fraudulent vote cancels out a single legal vote. The other side doesn’t seem to care about that at all”. Meanwhile,  in a rather ironic development, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that a legislative GOP staffer is under investigation for alleged voter fraud.

On April 28th, Dispatches from Fitzwalkerstan initially reported on this story.  Because the original article involved an acquaintance of mine I struggled with the moral dilemma of reporting on it. In November when the subject of the investigation, a Madison resident, first boasted about voting in a community over 100 miles from home, she was called on it.  She asserted she was living in Onalaska while running the assembly campaign of republican Dennis Clinard. Based on a facebook post that clearly advertised her intent to return to the city of Madison the very next day, which she did, she appears to have violated  State election law.  When this author subsequently discussed the matter with Ms. Malszycki in person several days later her response included the following statement “Why would I want to vote for Mark Pocan?”  (reference to the assembly democrat that represents her home district).

Why indeed.

Because you live here.  Because legislation that effects your community occurs here. Because you care about the community you live in.  Because regardless of political ideology, you are invested in your city and want it to remain/become a great place to live.  And if you are a republican, you at least care about your property taxes.

Or not.

It is important to remember that Ms. Malszyki works for a republican assembly representative that co-sponsored a bill seeking to prevent the very activity she engaged in on election day. When reviewing the drafts of the bill, as she must have at some point given her position, did she recognize her own behavior cited in examples? This Voter ID bill has long been planned by Wisconsin republicans with the assistance of the good folks at ALEC. No matter how you spin the story, it is inconceivable that a long-time GOP legislative staffer would be unaware that her nomadic voting activity would be in conflict with state law.

When this was brought to her attention, a few options were at her disposal:

  1. Contact the Onalaska City Clerk and admit that she voted illegally based upon her intent to return to her home district where she lives 20 out of 24 months.  If it was a mistake, admit it, and move on.
  2. Use her legislative position to correct the problem and educate poll workers if in fact it was their misinformation that contributed to her voting illegally.
  3. Say “I didn’t do anything wrong! I just didn’t want to vote for liberals!” and start blaming the author of the original story for her predicament.

She chose number 3.

On May 11th, while sitting in my yard with friends, Ms. Malcyszki came to my home and immediately engaged in a stream of foul language directed at me, in front of my pregnant wife,  three-year-old child, and friend. I asked her to stop. My wife asked her to stop. She refused.  I reminded her that my child was present.  She responded  with”I don’t care! The police went to my  mothers house because of you, so I don’t care about your family”.

Family values.

Ultimately, and I’m not proud, I responded in kind. After all, I’m just one of those “Union Thugs that trashed the capitol”.  Ms. Malszycki inexplicably started yelling about my first marriage that ended in divorce; information she clearly gleaned from the state court system website.  She inarticulately attempted to assert that “It was bad to get divorced, how about I blog about that, huh! Huh!”

Professionalism.

Clearly, she had been drinking as evidenced by the half empty 12 pack of miller lite she was toting around with her. Finally, in a moment straight out of COPS-including barking dogs, a screaming drunk person and precariously perched alcoholic beverages, she was led away by others. She continued to poke her head around the corner and yell things like “Hey big man, why don’t you come over here and have it out with me right now!” This went on until I retrieved my video camera.  When she realized I was taping, the direct assault finally ceased.

Responsibility.

There isn’t any.  Perhaps I’m naive because I truly hoped that writing about her nomadic voting history wouldn’t be perceived as personal and that common sense, and at least a veneer of social courtesy,  would be maintained.  I was wrong.

Why does any of this matter? Because it is indicative of the outraged indignation exhibited by the GOP whenever they themeselves are caught engaging in behavior that they so adamantly attribute to the other side.  While they willfully and aggressively dismantle Wisconsin’s progressive traditions through actions such as removing collective bargaining rights, disregarding open meeting laws, ignoring court orders, restricting public access to the state capitol and publicly ridiculing a sitting circuit court judge, they themselves expect to remain above the law. After all, Governor Walker himself refuses to respond to inquiries from Madison’s own police chief. 

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of hours now, debating on whether to publish it or not.  Especially because it was my intention that this incident involving alleged voter fraud not become personal.

Well, today I’m not a “liberal political blogger”.  Today I’m just a dad who is sad because a 30 year old GOP staffer who should know better made my kid cry. On purpose. Even the Mafia tries to separate “business” from the “personal.”

Why would anyone make this kid cry?

Walker's Train Funds Denied

During his gubernatorial campaign, Governor Scott Walker consistently labeled the $800 million Wisconsin received in federal high speed rail funds as a waste of tax payer dollars, an Obama Administration boondoggle, and completely unnecessary.  Shortly after winning his election, he got his wish; US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood happily took back the money allotted to Wisconsin and redistributed it to other states who actually desired to enter the 21st century, provide transportation alternatives and create jobs.  Governor Walker then touted the loss of the money as a huge win for his administration, and the taxpayer.

Fast forward a couple of months when our inept governor realized that the Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha line actually needs improvements, new train sets and 8 locomotives that would have been provided for with the original $810 million rail grant. So what does he do? He applies for $150 million in federal funds to, well, buy new train sets, replace locomotives, and upgrade the tracks. You can’t make this stuff up.

In a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation,  Secretary Ray LaHood said:

“President Obama and Vice President Biden’s vision for a national rail system will help ensure America is equipped to win the future with the fastest, safest and most efficient transportation network in the world,” said Secretary LaHood. “The investments we’re making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities.”

In a conference call, LaHood avoided answering a question about whether Monday’s decision was related to Walker’s rejection of the original $810 million grant, which negated two decades of planning by previous administrations. But Secretary LaHood repeatedly used the word “reliable” in describing the leadership of states selected for rail funding.

Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison.

State Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, quickly showered the Walker Administration with well-deserved praise:

“This announcement shows all our neighbors get federal train help but Wisconsin,” he says. “Gov Walker’s war on transportation choices pays off for our neighbors while our outdated train lines don’t get the upgrades they need.”

It appears that Rep. Hulsey is talking about  Talgo, a Spanish high-speed train manufacturer that announced it would likely close and move its manufacturing facility, and the jobs that go with it, to Illinois shortly after completing the trains already ordered.

Wisconsin taxpayers will now foot the bill to upgrade the Hiwatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago. This is the busiest inter-city passenger rail corridor in the midwest and well-used by both business and leisure travelers. In fact, Ridership on the Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha rail line has doubled in the past eight years, hitting a record 792,848 in 2010. The $150 million in upgrades the state will now need to self-finance would have paid for maintenance costs on the proposed high-speed rail line for nearly 20 years.  Even the cost associated with the completely unjustified increased security measures at the Wisconsin State Capitol has now reached nearly $7 million in a matter of a few months. Yet Governor Walker derailed the train because it “might” have cost that much in subsidies annually.  More accurately, the federal government would have covered some, if not all, of the maintenance costs in contrast with Walker simply flushing money away to finance his personal palace guard. Sadly, while the rest of the midwest builds out high speed rail infrastructure with an eye toward the future, Wisconsin stays firmly planted in the 1950’s.  Thanks Scott.

Recall Scott Walker

As always, comments are welcome!