At 9AM this morning the Wisconsin State Senate rules committee began a meeting many are concerned will hobble recall efforts in Wisconsin.
Simultaneously, two blocks away a group of people proclaimed they would exercise the right to recall one of the most hated Wisconsin politicians in all of history: Governor Scott Walker. We were jammed into a spartan basement recall office at 330 E. Wilson. I heard former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Wisconsin Firefighters Association President Mahlon Mitchell, and citizens declare their intent to file papers on Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch. The words that made me gasp: “Wisconsin can not take 1 more day of Scott Walker as governor of our state”.
We walked over to the Government Accountability Board office at East Washington, probably looking like a blob of press and 1 “Recall Walker” sign held aloft
Julie Wells walked up to the G.A.B. desk and announced, “I want to take out a petition to recall Governor Walker and I want to recall Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch”.
The paparazzi-like mass crowded closer, camera shutters clacking, digital cameras bleeping. Papers were filed, a few details were spelled out by the G.A.B clerk and it was done.
A reporter asked Julie how she felt, and she said, “It feels surreal. It really does. It feels like a dream. A dream come true. We’re going to do this. We’re taking back our state” There was light applause. And soft sounds of “yes”.
In my recording, I hear myself sigh loudly with relief in the background. Julie then embraced Sarah Hammer and another citizen and I heard her repeat, “We’re going to do this.”
I asked Sarah Hammer co-coordinator for United Wisconsin how she felt, “Amazing. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. 10 months in the waiting….I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep lately. It feels like Christmas.”
I asked her if she could devote all of her efforts to the recall in the next 60 days of signature gathering. She replied, “I have a full time job and I have a 4 and an 8 years old. I work about 100 hours a week- including this. For free.”
The assembled then left for the 1605 Monroe Street Madison United Wisconsin Office to carry on the press conference at that location.
I lingered listening to a few reporters confirming details on the recall process. I noticed a woman and her daughter had quietly slipped in and were filing more papers . They were adding papers to recall Wisconsin State Senator Scott Fitzgerald.
Me being a deferential citizen reporter, I asked them if they would like to be videotaped. They declined but authorized a photo. They tweeted under the @RecallFitz twitter
“Just filed the paperwork to #RecallFitz”
and I retweeted the message.
16,742 signatures at minimum must be gathered to recall Scott Fitzgerald.
Before departing, filer Lori said, “I just wanted to make clear that this is a serious effort. I’ve had lots of people say this is just symbolic. I wouldn’t allow Scott Fitzgerald to raise money – unlimited funds – if we weren’t serious. We’re coordinating closely with the Democratic Party.”
I believe they are enjoying something sweet on the square and some down time before heading into a great deal of work.
Lori will release a presser around noon from @RecallFitz with more information on the effort.
I have video I’ll be filing when I get back home.
For now, I’ll be talking to the people at the two tables next to me in this cafe. One is a table of two men circulating petitions and the second is a table of two women who were elated to be asked to sign. I will follow my state’s future as dictated by the GAB and the rules committee at 140 characters at a pop on twitter even though I’m across the street from our lawmakers.
For just a while, I need be at the periphery of the macabre bureaucracy inside and talking to people….. like a woman who has just drifted over to ask me where she can buy this Recall Walker sign..
To answer your frequently asked questions on the Walker and Kleefisch recalls, see United Wisconsin’s FAQ