“One Year Longer, One Year Stronger” Reflections on the Protests in Wisconsin

As many of you are aware it’s been just over one year since soon to be former Governor Walker announced his “budget repair bill”. Part of this budget repair bill took away collective bargaining rights from public workers. The thing that made my blood boil was the “budget repair bill” was “needed” because of all the tax cuts Walker gave to companies during his first month as governor. This told me that the current administration valued tax cuts to corporations more than workers’ rights. A strong middle class is built because workers have some say in their work place. Taking away any workers’ rights is NOT the “Wisconsin way”.

So much has happened since that fateful day in February it’s tough to even know where to start. There have been so many highs and just as many lows. It’s difficult to keep up on everything happening in Wisconsin politics. I’ve seen mass protests form almost overnight. In fact one of the very first protests against Walker was at the Post Crescent office here in Appleton. I’ve seen a large number of people become politically active for the first time in their lives. I’ve seen an unprecedented number of recall elections.

Before this I never really paid attention to state politics because in the back of my mind I always thought Wisconsin was different and that somehow our politicians were more reasonable than in other states. In my mind, all Wisconsin politicians strove to do the “right thing” for the state and were willing to listen to everyone, even dissenters. Boy, was I wrong and more than a little naive.

In the last year I’ve seen politicians who avoid town hall meetings with their constituents. Some of our elected legislators prefer either a pay for event like a breakfast or telephone conference call. I’ve heard politicians say they’re not interested in listening to people testifying at “listening sessions”. I don’t know about you, but I always believed “we the people” hired these officials by electing them. It’s part of their job description to listen to everyone, not just the people that voted for them. We shouldn’t have to pay to speak with them nor agree completely with them in order to be heard.

Most importantly, I’ve seen a state-wide community of progressives form. Since this started I have found so many unsung Wisconsin heroes, it’s impossible to name them all. There are the people who braved blizzards and froze while protesting at the capital last winter, the people who canvassed neighborhoods during the heat of the summer and who can forget the tens of thousands of people who gathered recall signatures this winter. It may have started because of collective bargaining rights, but it’s branched out to become something much bigger than that. This has turned into a movement that has gained the attention and support of people from all over the country. Many progressives from other states are pinning their hopes and dreams on the successes we have here. They believe their states have a chance to improve if we succeed here in Wisconsin. We can and will make things better. At the beginning people would say “one day longer, one day stronger”, now we can all say “one year longer, one year stronger”. Let’s keep this amazing progressive momentum going FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!!

Fight for the woman who fights for Wisconsin: Senator Lena Taylor – A guest post by Andrew

A guest post by Andrew. Draft 1*

The Joint Finance Committee is Wisconsin’s single most important standing committee, and this year has proven that time and time again. During Uncle Charlie’s Crazy Time on WTMJ-AM on 9/22/11, committee Co-Chair Senator Alberta Darling revealed that she wants Democratic Party Senator Lena Taylor removed from the Committee.

Darling stated: “”She can call people liars. This level of disrespect for the process, disrespect for rules of law and disrespect for the process of doing legislation for the people of Wisconsin is a concern.”

The hypocrisy of Darling’s statement  would be comical if it wasn’t so serious.

Alberta Darling displayed little “respect for rules of law” or “the process of doing legislation for the people of Wisconsin” during the rigged passage of Wisconsin Act 10. In this video, Darling claims Wisconsin Act 10 was no longer “fiscal” after it was revamped to focus on collective bargaining. This contradicts the logic of Walker’s own announcement on February 11th when he proclaimed it necessary to strip public employee collective bargaining rights. He said it was “the key to balancing our budget”. He thus made it a “fiscal” issue. We all know the WI GOP called it “non-fiscal” later to get around their shortcoming: they lacked a quorum of 20 state senators. We all know they did it to render the absent Dem14 powerless. If we did accept Walker’s original story, then what was that turnaround if not a lie and “disrespect for the process, disrespect for rules of law and disrespect for the process of doing legislation for the people of Wisconsin”?

After witnessing more than my fair share of JFC meetings, including ones where Senator Taylor pushes back against some of her most ardent supporters [as seen below], I found myself dumbfounded by such a bold statement from Senator Darling.

(MacIver Institute video  set to skip to 1:25)

Let’s be frank. This all stems from last weeks’ contentious JFC meeting where Senator Taylor & Darling sniped at each other for a few minutes over statements relating to Senator Grothman.

It was hardly the most testy exchange I have ever seen during a JFC meeting. But if that’s what prompts one of the co-chairs to warrant asking a removal of a Senator from the committee entirely, one has to wonder if the Rep. Kleefish modus-operandi of never saying anything is really what the GOP leadership wants.

Want to see what Senator Taylor does during JFC meetings? Here’s what a quick Youtube video search found:

If removing Lena Taylor from the JFC is part of a “Spirit of Bipartisanship” that gets touted by the GOP in this state, God help us. We need people like Senator Taylor on the JFC, and her loss would be devastating to Democratic ideals in this state. We need to fight for Lena & make sure everyone knows how we feel!

– My name is Andrew. Keep Your Head on a Swivel.

As someone who had the privilege of living in the greater Madison area during the unprecedented year that is 2011, I was able to attend more than my fair share of Joint Finance Committee (JFC) meetings during the height of debate over the biennial budget. Also, through the efforts of Wisconsin Eye (http://wiseye.org/), myself and many other citizens have also been able to view either live, or archived footage of these meetings.

The fact that more and more exposure about the work of this committee has eluded television news outlets around the state still astounds me.

Pictured: Wisconsin Democratic Party State Senator Lena Taylor of Milwaukee

*on “Draft 1” – I want to note that I have edited Andrew’s post, shuffling points around and adding some clarification especially around the logic of WI Act 10. He has not had an opportunity to offer final approval before publication. This post may be refined further this evening and if this occurs, I will clarify that an additional edit was made by Andrew on the post.-blue

Victory. Statements from Senators Wirch, Holperin, and Miller

Image from CSMonitor-Senator Wirch's Victory Speech

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to each and every one of you who assisted in last night’s victories.

I know I’m breathing easier today seeing Wirch and Holperin hold onto their seats. I pledged on facebook that I’d eat my hat if Simac won.(a large sun hat. awfully dry eating.)

I’d like to think that with only a 1 vote majority now, Wisconsin’s Republican state senate will feel like it has to take a more moderate direction. I’d like to think there are a few politicians realizing Walker can’t protect them from consequences. Frankly, I’m still processing it all. How about you – feeling hopeful? Or just tired? Other?

Here’s a good citizen-journalism video from MadManMikey which includes Senator Bob Wirch’s victory statement and more. (Audio starts a little quiet but gets better) Senator Wirch says “I am honored to fight for working class people” and the crowd breaks out into the classic “Thank you! Thank you!” Wisconsin protester chant. Wirch relays a comment from John Bowser of Sha Na Na, who has helped multiple Democratic Senators campaign: “Wisconsin people are the nicest people in the whole world. But don’t get ’em angry!” Wirch adds that politicians need to get back to being able to negotiate and find moderation and compromise. At the 6:42 mark the crowd repeats “Recall Walker! Recall Walker!”

WAOW has a a little coverage from Holperin’s speech last night – -in which you also hear the crowd break out into “Recall Walker” chanting, followed by some terse commentary from retired political science professor Dr. Angela Burger

FOX11 provided words from both Holperin and Simac –no chanting–and starts out by titling it their “Balanced Coverage”. Snickering is almost obligatory.

Here’s a statement from Wisconsin State Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller on last night’s wins:
“Senate Democrats have fought for the rights and priorities of middle class and working families. In historic recall elections across the state the people of Wisconsin have clearly spoken out against the radical, divisive agenda Governor Walker and legislative Republicans have pursued to date.

“All three Democratic incumbents have been re-elected, Democrats have won two seats, adding two fantastic new Senators – Jen Shilling and Jess King – and came within 1,100 votes of flipping the Senate majority.

“When the legislature returns, Democrats will continue to focus on an agenda that brings sustainable, well paying jobs to Wisconsin, ensures women, children and families have the health care they need, provides the opportunity for a great education for our children and job training for workers, protects our clean air and water, and delivers tax savings to the small businesses, middle class and working families that need it most.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with the Governor and legislative Republicans on this agenda to move our state forward.”

And for a flashback, here’s Senator Miller’s statement regarding the previous week’s election results.
8/10/2011 MADISON — “Tonight we have added two outstanding women to the Senate Democratic Caucus, Jess King and Jen Shilling.

“Six months ago no one would have ever expected we would be where we are tonight. The people of Wisconsin have made history. While Democrats have not won back the Senate tonight we have not lost.

“Democrats, moderates, independents and even Republicans fought back against the radical Walker overreach that attacked core Wisconsin values. We fought on Republican turf and added two Democrats to the State Senate.

“Teachers, nurses, firefighters, police, EMTs, blue collar and white collar workers fought back in historic rallies at the Capitol, gathering 180,000 signatures in every corner of the state to trigger unprecedented recall elections and elected two Democrats.

“We pushed the Republicans and their special interest allies to the limit in strongly Republican districts. The middle class and working families stood up to the special interests and the right-wing extremists and won.

“Clearly the radical, divisive agenda Republicans have pursued does not sit well with the people of Wisconsin. It is time to end the assault on middle class and working families and for Republicans to work with Democrats to create jobs, protect our schools and ensure children, seniors and working families have access to health care.”

Wisconsin State Senate District 12 - It Stays Holperin Territory

More on past election #’s for Wirch and Holperin’s districts at DailyKos.

All Hands on Deck for Dave Hansen!

by Appleton Wonk

The weather isn’t the only thing getting hot in Wisconsin. Political activity in my fair state is white hot as we face the first general election in what will lead to nine recall elections this summer. Six Republican and three Democratic state senators face recall. If you live in Dave Hansen’s district please get out and vote for him today. The polls are open until 8 pm.

Incumbent Democrat Dave Hansen is facing Republican David Vanderleest in the first general recall election. It’s “all hands on deck” as people are coming out in droves to support Senator Hansen. There’s still time to help Dave Hansen. Simply show up at the Democratic office at 1061 W. Mason St. in Green Bay. @gbneal59 has assured me that “helping hands are always welcome”.

Last night the Fox Cities Organizing for America teams held a GOTV for Dave Hansen as part of their monthly meeting. At the end of the evening 1,088 calls were made by 29 volunteers. Pictures from last evening’s phone bank can be found here.

Nancy Nusbaum spoke to the volunteers and said the volunteers are doing 2 great things, helping Dave Hansen and making sure that Dave Hansen’s victory will be the “wind in the sails” for the rest of the recall elections to follow. She said that she has never before felt the type of support she is feeling in this election and is happy to see so many people that are participating that have never been involved in politics before.

Nancy cited some information about Robert Cowles tenure that caught my attention. He went to the state legislature when Lynn Dickey was quarterback for the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers wasn’t born yet. After Cowles was in office for 29 years he suddenly in January of 2011 “realized we had a crisis, and oh, by the way he was neither responsible nor was he going to be part of the solution”.

Nancy Nusbaum is facing Robert Cowles in the general election on August 9. Please show your support by donating your time, money or both. Details can be found at Nancy Nusbaum’s campaign site.

We all need to become involved with these elections and “flip the senate”.

Mahlon Mitchell Energizes the Crowd in Green Bay

by Appleton Wonk

The Wisconsin Truth Tour kicked off yesterday morning at the Teamsters Hall in Green Bay. Many groups including the AFL-CIO are coordinating this effort. The speakers included President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO Phil Neuenfeldt, paraprofessional educator Jason Albertz, United Steelworkers District 2 Director Mike Bolton, President of the Wisconsin State Professional Firefighters Mahlon Mitchel, Greg Hinds with the AFL-CIO and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives Steve Kagen. . Here are some pictures taken before the event.

This tour gives community members an opportunity to voice their concern about Gov. Walker’s budget and makes stops in Green Bay, Rhinelander, Baraboo, Oshkosh, Kenosha, Milwaukee, La Crosse and Hudson. Here’s the full schedule of tour stops .

Wisconsin Truth Tour Dates:

Saturday, June 16:  Green Bay
Wednesday, July 20:  Rhinelander
Thursday, July 21:  Baraboo
Friday, July 22:  Oshkosh
Monday, July 25:  Kenosha
Tuesday, July 26:  Milwaukee
Monday, August 1:  La Crosse
Tuesday, August 2:  Hudson

This is the final weekend before the election for Senator Hansen faces David Vanderleest in the general election. As @gbneal59 said via Twitter “Remember, in February, Sen. Hansen stood up for Wisconsin workers. Now stand up for Sen. Hansen, general election this Tuesday, July 19”. Don’t miss this opportunity to volunteer some of your time to help a senator that has worked tirelessly for you. Volunteer opportunities can be found at either Dave Hansen’s website or through the AFL-CIO site.

Special radio shows: 6:30PM CST Today Senator Jon Erpenbach. Tomorrow 6:30PM CST Russ Feingold


I just got confirmation: we will have as a guest Senator Jon Erpenbach on our live and online radio show at 6:30PM CST tonight Wednesday 6/15.

And tomorrow at 6:30PM CST, Steve Hanson and I will talk to Russ Feingold on a special 1 hour show.

Our online radio show Solidarity Wisconsin will air at 6:30PM Central Time now through Saturday due to our trip to the international bloggers conference Netroots Nation in Minneapolis. (watch some of the talks from home if you’d like)

If you’ve never experienced our online show, well, don’t be shy. Step right up and listen in. All you need to do is visit a web site. While you’re listening you can chat with others who are tuned in at the same site. I always defer to Steve’s savvy with the online phones. You can give him a call via the show #: 1 619 393 2854.

What would you like to ask our guests?

By the way, all shows are archived at the same site.

Photos, Tidier notes, and Twitterati from the “Organizing the Occupation” panel

Photos from the NOI 5/12 “Organizing the Occupation” panel at UW Madison, with my notes. Reminder:  I am usually only paraphrasing the speakers. Skip to the end for the twitterati contact info.

I’ve heard NOI is making a video of the panel available later this week.

[nggallery id=2]

My notes from “Organizing the Occupation”:


Tom Foley is introducing the concept of Scott Walker’s entry into the political scene of WI right now. We are in the Union South Bldg. of University of Wisconsin at Madison in Wisconsin

On the panel is Melissa Ryan, New Media Director of NOI. Also here is Senator Larson, Emily Mills, Chris Liebenthal, and Max Love. Emily Mills is a blogger with Isthmus, a co-editor of blog dane101, and a musician. Chris Liebenthal is a Milwaukee County social worker, activist, and avid blogger at multiple locations –  though he’s best known as the man behind Cognitive Dissidence.  Max Love is a UW student who helped organize protest and occupation at the Capitol in Madison. He’s with Badger Impact and he’s blogging the unflagging protest of UW Madison’s community at tenacious transparency. Moderating is Tom Foley who blogs at  illusory tenant with a mix of biting humor and legal acumen.

Senator Chris Larson was elected in Fall of 2010 and was amongst the 14 Wisconsin Senators – the “Dem 14” or “Fab 14” – who left for Illinois on February 17, 2011 to halt action on Scott Walker’s regressive “Wisconsin Act 10”.


Sen. Larson: We took a page from Egypt in use of technology. …. you can literally check on your politicians’ facts while they are speaking  [happened last night while a rep in the Assembly Continue reading

Wisconsin GAB reports 19 recall efforts against 16 candidates

The Government Accountability Board says the clock is now officially ticking on 19 campaigns against 16 members of the state Senate. Signatures on these efforts are due from April 25 to May 16.

I called David Buerger, election specialist of GAB to get a few details about current recall committee filings.

The Senators that are getting tag-teamed by multiple campaigns are:

Dem Senator Mark Miller of Monona who has 3 filed against him. 1 is named Continue reading

Rallying troops for the Kapanke Recall: Senator Jon Erpenbach in La Crosse, March 19

Senator Erpenbach (one of the famous Fab 14-ers) visited La Crosse, Wisconsin on March 19, 2011 to support the “Recall Kapanke” campaign. This is a segment from the speech he gave at this event.

Part 2. 100,000 Welcome the Dem14 Home: The Press Conference

I could say without exaggeration that I was riveted to the appearance and the words of the Dem14 at Saturday’s press conference.

Dave Hansen of Green Bay conveyed the most emotion of all of the Senators who spoke to us.

Sen. Dave Hansen

Here is a 2.5 minute selection. This is a recording I don’t get tired of.

I realize I am incredibly biased. In my eyes, what the Dem14 did was necessary and heroic.  The press in this room didn’t share my admiration Continue reading

Hold on: Republican Senators Broke the Law on Turf of Kathleen Falk

Thursday, March 10, 2011 — 12:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Dane County officials have directed county attorneys to take legal action over the state Senate’s passage of a bill taking away collective bargaining rights from public workers.

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said Thursday that state officials don’t get to choose which laws they’ll follow and when.

She was referring to a committee meeting called Wednesday night before the Senate took action. City attorney Mike May says he believes the action violated the state open meetings law.

State law requires at least 24 hours’ notice of a meeting, or two hours’ notice in case of emergency. Wednesday’s 6 p.m. meeting was noticed at 4:10 p.m.

Senate Clerk Rob Marchant says under Senate rules, no notice was required other than posting it on the legislative bulletin board.

Kathleen Falk is a Democrat in the very strong Democratic territory of Dane County, which surrounds Madison, Wisconsin.


The Fab 14 on the Ed Schultz Show: “Whose side are you on?”

Why am I going to summarize this video? I love it. And I know a lot of you don’t have the patience for it and you might not like that constant yelling Ed Schultz does.

Also, it’s a pretty good framework for where things still stand right now between Scott Walker, Senate Majority Leader Scott “Don’t give a shit about your constitutional rights” Fitzgerald, and the power and energy of the impending recall elections against GOP Senators- recall elections that Scott Fitzgerald suggested he’d try to scuttle with a rule change yesterday.

Here’s what’s in this 15 minutes on Wisconsin from a recent Ed Schultz Show:

Walker calls Mark Miller’s letter and offer to meet “ridiculous”.

Walker says he’s assuming that Republican Senator Dale Schultz will vote “no” on his bill, siding with the Democrats. Democrats say they are applying pressure on moderate Republican Senator Mike Ellis.

To accomplish their goal of passing the Governor’s union-busting “budget repair” bill and also the draconian public-education-destroying regular budget bill, Republicans need 1 Democrat to come home and flip.  To defeat the Governor’s agenda, the Democrats need 3 Republicans to flip to “no” votes.

Senator Scott Fitzgerald announces that Dem. Senators Bob Jauch and Tim Cullen met with Walker allies. This announcement enrages Senator Jauch who says “Trust is completely broken down now. I don’t believe anything he says. [meaning Republican Senator Scott Fitzgerald]”

At the 1:19 mark, Ed talks with Senator Mark Miller and Senator Lena Taylor. Senator Miller says that in a recent press conference, Governor Walker claimed access to” ‘zero flexibility’. Senator Miller: “…and then he accuses us of not being able to negotiate”.

Senator Miller adds that Walker apparently does not know how to negotiate, and that is one of the reasons he wants to get rid of public bargaining.  Miller adds that the ability to negotiate is essential to working in the political arena.

Lena Taylor says that Republican Senator Dale Schultz has pretty much stated that he does not support the bill and wants an amendment to it [to keep collective bargaining rights]. She adds that Republican Senator Ellis has always worked in a practical way and he has a good relationship with Democratic Senator Risser. She says,

“Whose side are they on-those 19 Senators [Republican]? Are they on the side of Wisconsin workers? Or are they on Walker’s side?

Senator Miller calls the recall efforts “basically a do-over of the November election” and credits Governor Walker’s radical agenda for dividing Wisconsin. Senator Taylor adds that if the public were not energized to side with the workers, why would they be lining up around the block to volunteer in recall efforts against Republicans?

Ed Schultz asks, “What if you can’t change minds, how long are you willing to ‘hang in there’ and be absent?” Senator Taylor does not address the question directly. Instead she says,”It’s a question of whose side are you on, on the side of an unpopular governor or on the side of the workers?”

At the 5:08 mark, Senator Lena Taylor (full disclosure: my favorite Senator) closes saying,

“the recalls provide an opportunity for Wisconinites to take this baton and to really do what needs to be done to hold them [Republicans] accountable.” She adds something at the end — the Muhammad Ali style of tough talk I’m needing right about now:

“They’re gonna see ’em now, or they’re gonna hear ’em now, they’re gonna listen to ’em now, or they’re gonna have to deal with ’em later”.

Click to link into 15 minutes on Wisconsin's current crisis.

Insulting Letter to Dem. Senator Mark Miller from Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Not-Afraid-To-Be-A-Royal-Prick Fitzgerald: Republican Majority Leader, Wisconsin State Senate

March 7, 2011

Sen. Mark Miller

Parts Unknown, IL

Dear Senator Miller,

Thank you for your hand-delivered letter with an offer to meet, in Illinois, about the business and future direction of Wisconsin.   Let’s set aside how bizarre that is for a moment.

As you know Continue reading

Democratic Senator Kathleen Vinehout says she’ll “talk turkey” with the Gov.

“Senator Miller and Senate Democrats have offered Governor Walker numerous compromises.  Labor leaders have provided financial concessions the Governor requested.  Hundreds of thousands of people have voiced opposition to the “budget repair bill.”  The people of Wisconsin want our leaders to work together.  My colleagues and I want to make this happen.  If the Governor doesn’t want to meet with Senator Miller, I am ready to meet with him and reach a compromise that moves us forward.”

This came to me via Steve Hanson. (Thanks Steve.)

Questions on this should go to:

Linda Kleinschmidt
Chief of Staff

Office of State Senator Kathleen Vinehout
3 South State Capitol – PO Box 7882
Madison, WI  53707-7882

Senator Vinehout’s wikipedia page

Kathleen Vinehout’s Official Page

Video & Photo: Fab 14 Democrat Senators of Wisconsin Moments Before Leaving for Illinois

This moving photo came from Senator Chris Larson. He is one of of the “Fab 14”: the Wisconsin Democratic Senators that left for Illinois rather than allow passage of Walker’s extreme power-grabbing bill. His tweet is below:

Chris Larson
United in Solidarity: this is the picture we took just before heading to Illinois. #wiunionhttp://yfrog.com/h6sm5lfjhttp://fb.me/T7EURQju
The last photo of the 14 Democrat Senators of Wisconsin taken before they left for Illinois.
A photo of the 14 Democrat Senators of Wisconsin taken just before they left for Illinois.

Senator Chris Larson’s article on the Budget Disrepair Bill is HERE (written 2/20).

Chris Larson was elected to his Milwaukee Senate seat November of 2010, unseating Jeff Plale. Continue reading