Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

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.

 

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. 

Since beginning this blog, I haven’t strayed very much-if at all-from the subject of politics. Today is a politics free kind of day. After all, everyone needs a break from time to time.

Our friends invited us to sit on the capitol lawn, drink wine, eat snacks and enjoy the experience that is Concerts on the Square . How strange it was to attend an event at the capitol that didn’t involve demonstrating or protesting.

patrons of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra's Concerts on the Square.

I have to admit, I enjoyed the evening.  My son played with his friend Giavanna, while my wife and I enjoyed chatting with our friends, each other, and generally drinking in the atmosphere that is Madison in the summer.  Concerts on the Square is great for people watching.  And sometimes listening.  At one point I found myself overhearing the chatter of a young woman sitting near us who was vividly describing all the “action” her blanket has seen. TMI, but amusing.

My son Sal, having a great time.

Beautiful evening for this, really. Temperature was nearly perfect, deep blue sky, happy chatter could be heard from our blanket neighbors. It was good to se people relaxing on the  capitol square for a change.  What a good day.

Majestic Theater

Later that night, after my wife and son went to sleep, I went back downtown to meet a good friend for a drink and much needed conversation. Later, instead of going right home I just rambled around taking various night shots of the city that I love so much.

The Great Dane

Natt Spil- great bar with outstanding and inexpensive food.

The space that used to be Restaurant Magnus, one of my favorites. Soon Tempest, an Oyster Bar, will open here.

view toward the capitol

View toward the capitol

And that’s about it.  Just a nice summer night to be a Madisonian.  What’s your favorite summer activity in the Madison area?

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.”

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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.

District 48 Assembly Candidate Andy Heidt

Full Press Release from the Andy Heidt Campaign:

Andy Heidt, candidate for State Assembly in the 48th District, today called on members of the Joint Committee on Finance to reject Gov. Walker’s proposal to use the biennial budget to decimate Wisconsin’s medical assistance programs, including the immensely popular and successful BadgerCare Plus program.

“Real progressives understand that the only permanent fix for our country’s broken health care system is universal, single-payer insurance,” Heidt said. “While we work to overcome the political obstacles, many Wisconsin residents can rely on a pretty good stopgap system that includes BadgerCare and other Medicaid-funded programs.  It’s crucial that we protect those programs during this fragile economic recovery.”

Heidt noted that Walker’s proposed budget would slash state Medicaid spending by half a billion dollars over the next biennium, at a time when families are just beginning to get back on their feet in the aftermath of the “great” recession. “There’s probably no clearer testament to the warped priorities of the Walker administration than a budget containing massive handouts to tax-dodging corporations while telling sick parents and people with disabilities that they’re out of luck. Their health, in Walker’s twisted view, is less important than a bunch of new highways,” Heidt said.

Heidt also pointed out that because Medicaid spending draws millions of federal dollars into the state, these massive cuts in health care spending will also hurt Wisconsin’s economy. “Federal Medicaid dollars that come into Wisconsin spread around the state economy, stimulating spending in a bunch of related industries and creating and preserving thousands of jobs,” said Heidt. “If jobs were really the top priority rather than just a buzzword, we would be shoring up our health care system, not taking a sledgehammer to it.  Health care coverage, BadgerCare Medicaid Coverage is economic development.”

Heidt also objected to provisions in the budget repair bill currently hung up in the courts that would shift control over Medicaid policy from the legislature to the administrative branch, giving Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith, a key Walker ally, the power to rewrite state Medicaid laws with little legislative oversight and minimal opportunity for public input. Changes they are likely to seek include increased premiums and copays, more restrictions on services covered, tougher eligibility requirements, and more red tape for joining and staying in programs like BadgerCare. This sweeping power grab—unprecedented in Wisconsin history and, according to the very lawyer who wrote the actual language in the bill, probably a violation of the State Constitution—could affect as many as 1.2 million state residents currently enrolled in the state’s Medicaid programs, including over three-quarters of a million in BadgerCare. “And they won’t even be able to hold their legislators accountable for these changes because all the decisions will be made behind closed doors by unelected bureaucrats. Why do legislators want to abrogate their constitutional duty in regards to the separation of powers?  What are they afraid of?” Heidt said. 

In addition, Heidt blasted the proposed privatization of income maintenance program administration, which would affect Medicaid and a host of other supports for low-income households. “Privatizing these kinds of programs has been a catastrophe everywhere it’s been tried. Are we that desperate to follow the ‘small government’ mantra to its extremes that we don’t even care how much it will harm the most vulnerable members of our communities?” said Heidt, who has spent 13 years helping people navigate the often complex web of assistance programs in his capacity as ombudsman in the Dane County Department of Human Services .

“The budget proposals related to Medicaid being discussed today in Joint Finance are a disaster in every respect—economically, legally, and morally. We need more voices in the Legislature prepared to speak out forcefully against these sorts of greed-fuelled, anti-people assaults.”

Voter ID

UPDATE: May 7,  The LaCrosse County DA has asked the Onalaska, WI Police Department to investigate. A detective has been assigned to the case. 

Madison, WI. During election season in Wisconsin it is common for legislative staffers to take a leave of absence and work on campaigns around the state.  For a couple of months they are assigned to a candidate who may not live in their home district, and in many cases, act as campaign managers.

In November of 2010 a republican legislative staffer, who in the past has worked for Rep. Mike Huebsch(Now DOA Secretary) and currently works for Rep. Warren Petryk, was assigned to the Dennis Clinard campaign in LaCrosse, WI.  This staffer owns a home in Madison where she has lived for several years.

On election day, Nov. 2nd, 2010, she posted on Facebook that she “just voted for Walker, Kapanke, Huebsch, Johnson and Van Hollen. Go Team!”.   Wait a minute…Kapanke? Onalaska Wisconsin?

Edited version of FB conversation to protect identity of participants. M is the subject.

But she lives in Madison, not Onalaska.  Her statement caught my attention because I wondered how someone who resides in Madison could vote in a district over 100 miles from their primary residence.   Good question, right? Especially since Governor Walker and our Republican State Legislature, her colleagues,  are making so much noise about fair elections and pushing a mean-spirited Voter ID bill that has the very real possibility of disenfranchising thousands of seniors, students and minorities in order to facilitate the creation of a permanent conservative majority.

The Wisconsin Voter ID Bill, or AB 7,  is set to become one of the most restrictive Voter ID bills in the nation for its special crackdown on students. If it passes, in 2012 voters will need to produce a drivers license, a state ID, a passport or naturalization papers, a military ID or Native American tribal ID in order to vote. A student ID would no longer be an acceptable form of identification.  It will make it difficult for out-of-state students to vote on their college campuses where they live nine months out of the year.

I happen to be a Facebook friend of the wandering Republican legislative staffer in question.  Back in November when she posted the information, I called her on it. She asserted that she “was living there”.  Not true.  She was temporarily residing in Onalaska knowing that she would be returning to Madison the day after the elections as evidenced by her additional facebook post; “Will finally be home in approx. 16 hours! Watch out Lake Point!”  Watch out indeed.

Here is a link to the Wisconsin State Elections Handbook. The following is excerpted from pages 37 and 38:

2. Temporary Absence.
a. Residency is not lost when a person leaves home and goes to another
country, state, county, town, village, or ward temporarily with intent
to return home. Residency cannot be established in any ward, town,
village or city in this state while living there temporarily.

This activity begs the question:  Is it common for GOP staffers to vote in districts where they are temporarily working on campaigns in order to give a little boost to their candidate?  This is what absentee ballots are designed for. In light of recent extremely close contests,  such as the 163 vote victory of  Rep. Randy Hopper over Democrat Jessica King, is it conceivable  that a “Mobile GOP Voting Strike Force” could potentially sway elections? What stops a large corporation, say, Koch Industries, from subsidizing apartments for a month or so where folks could claim residency in critical state elections.  That scenario might sound a bit far fetched, but is it possible? Sure.

Before the GOP endeavors to disenfranchise voters with this bill, perhaps they should police their own operatives to make sure they remember where they reside at election time.

“In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin,” Democratic Sen. Mark Miller said in a statement. “Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten.” 

Police Mustering on Second Floor

MADISON, WI. Thousands of angry citizens stormed the Wisconsin State Capitol this evening when the Republican Senate, after removing fiscal items from the original bill, passed legislation that will strip public unions of most of their collective bargaining rights and require employees to pay 8% more toward their health insurance and and a greater share of their pensions.    Earlier today State Senator  and majority leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), appeared on Fox news admitting that the end game had always been to marginalize labor unions in order to defeat Obama in 2012.  Hey Scott, since when is it the job of the state senate to help a presidential candidate win?  And just last week Scott Walker was adamantly explaining that collective bargaining was a fiscal issue. But suddenly it isn’t, or it was…

Protestors Inside the Capitol

Hundreds of cars circled the capitol honking their horns in support while the crowd grew seemingly by the minute.  Teamsters in their trucks were handing out American Flags, and obviously had some sort of train whistle installed in one of their vehicles.  Gone was the relatively easy going attitude of the crowd that had become a hallmark over the last several weeks. It had been replaced by anger, outrage and utter disbelief.While walking around the Capitol, I ran into an old friend who told me that GOP senators were now holed up in the Inn on the Park across the square.  So we walked over there, and sure enough the camera around my neck caught their attention when we walked into the bar.  We tweeted and facebooked the info and within minutes, protesting firefighters showed up who were quite angry. Ultimately, the republicans fled from the bar to their rooms.

Inside the Rotunda- Mass Protest Rally.

Heading back to the capitol we noticed the doors were wide open allowing easy entry to the building.  As we are making our way to the rotunda it becomes obvious that there are no police in sight. We reach the press office where I’m able to obtain today’s pass. It is clear that this is one of the biggest crowds to occupy the building yet.  There are constant reminders over  the PA system that “the capitol is closed, please leave”. No one is paying the messages any mind.  It is now clear that all the police have retreated to the second and third floors.  One semi-official estimate is that there is 8,000 people gathered under the dome, while thousands more march outside.  The crowd is a mix of teachers, union members, college students, and every day folks who have finally had it.

At about 10:30 pm, I enter the press office and find Tim Donovan, spokesperson for the Department of Administration and Capitol Police giving an impromptu press conference. Mr. Donovan states that “there will be a large number, a significantly larger amount, of law enforcement at the capitol.”  Another reporter asks if he was informed ahead of time about the surprise vote. He answers “yes, I was told at about 5-ish and we tried to have more law enforcement on hand, obviously not enough”. Finally, I ask “Have you been in touch with the National Guard today?” Mr. Donovan responds with “Yes, the National Guard provides emergency law enforcement assistance, and in that capacity, yes, we have had discussions with them, but as far as being on alert goes, that’s a question for the governor”.   He then exits.

Back in the rotunda, things are getting louder, drums are beating, and the police are trying to deny access to the second floor.  Lound chants of “Let us up” reverberate through the building, and people start handling supplies up to the folks on the stairs behind the police officers.  At one point the crows learns that stairs on the other side of the building are unguarded, and there is a rush up them, to the second floor.  It appears as if some of the occupiers are now digging in for the night.

Folks, that’s what happened this evening.  The crowd peacefully took control of the Wisconsin State Capitol by overwhelming the police.  This seems to be without recent precedent in American politics.  The vote will now go to the assembly tomorrow(today) at 11:00 am.  There’s much talk about a general strike and plenty of rumors taking on lives of their own.  I’ll have more updates tomorrow, but for now, good night.

Patrick DePula
Originally posted to http://www.themudflats.net