Recall Walker day, June 5th is rapidly approaching. On this day people in Wisconsin can collectively stand up and put a stop to Walker’s anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-union, anti-environment agenda. We can show the state and country that people in Wisconsin still believe in the “Wisconsin way” of fair play, open government and progressive values. People from all over the country and world are watching what happens in our fair state with great interest and anticipation. They believe the outcome here will influence the political environment all over the country. I agree with them. Wisconsin is leading the way on this one. We can show everyone that we believe in the power of the people and that we put “people over profits”.
I remember hearing about the first protests after Walker dropped “the bomb” last February. The people of Wisconsin united against Walker and his horribly damaging agenda. We came together as a united force and showed the world “this is what democracy looks like”. We protested in the streets, in the capital and in song. We pushed for and succeeded in getting recall elections against six Republican state senators last summer. We have done so many things that the “talking heads” didn’t think was possible that I’m awed every time I think of it.
Now we have to do the most important thing of all. We all need to get to a polling place and vote Walker out of office. Let’s hit him where it really hurts, vote for Barrett. Protesting Walker wherever he goes can be fun. It’s been incredible knowing that he gets protested in every state he goes to, not just Wisconsin. Yelling “shame” at him is a great stress reliever, but doesn’t really mean anything unless you follow up your words with the direct action of voting. Each of us has a stake in the outcome of this election. Make sure everyone you know votes, too.
Help get out the vote in your community. We Are Wisconsin has many field offices. Click here for opportunities in your area. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin also has quite a few field offices. Click here for the full list. Consider donating items to the recall offices if you don’t feel comfortable with canvassing and/or phone banking. Volunteering is hungry and thirty work. Snacks and beverages for the volunteers are always welcome.
We can get Walker out of office if we all pull together. We need to get Wisconsin back to its progressive roots. It’s not going to be easy and can’t be done overnight, but getting Walker out of office will be a step in the right direction.
Get out there and vote as if you mean it. Vote as if your life and democracy depend on it because they do. Let’s take our fine state FORWARD!!!
Yesterday the soon to be former governor visited the V.F.W. in Appleton to sign a bill that helps military veterans. Of course, he was met with a good sized “welcoming committee”. It’s heartwarming for this wonk to know that they could get a pretty good sized crowd together on such short notice. Some people in the group estimated there were between 40 and 45 protesters present. I’ll take their word on it as I didn’t do a head count.
According to the Appleton Post Crescent, about 100 veterans and supporters turned out to witness him signing the bill. Read the Post-Crescent article for more information on this bill.
Walker arrived in a car this time, not the usual black SUV. One protester stated that he’s the “100 meter dash governor”. That observation not only made me chuckle, it seemed to be a fair assessment of what we saw. Walker really moves fast when he’s trying to get away from protesters.
An important point to remember is that people were there to protest Walker and his failed policies. They were not there to protest military veterans, in fact, quite a few people thanked the veterans for their service.
From the Post-Crescent article:
“About 25 Walker protesters gathered on sidewalks, bearing posters and pins. They yelled “Shame, shame!” as Walker came and went.
However, many protesters said they support the veterans bills — several clapped and thanked the veterans who walked past them — but they just don’t back the governor.”
There are a couple of amusing anecdotes from the protest. One veteran who was attending the event told a protester something to the effect of “I’m here to hear what the c***sucker has to say for himself”.
Another incident involved a passerby trying to yell something at the protesters. Unfortunately his teeth fell out as he was speaking so he couldn’t finish his thought. This caused the group to break into spontaneous giggles. This laughter was captured in the video below. I didn’t personally see that happen, but did hear chanting turn into laughter. It’s not too often serious chanting turns into guffaws. I’m happy to have caught that moment. The protesters may never know for sure if he was a Walker supporter because he was “silenced” when his teeth fell out. In my humble opinion no one should be silenced because they lack denture adhesive.
Any day is a good day to protest Walker and yesterday was no exception. Here are some pictures from the event.
The video will start where the parade footage kicks in.
Almost everyone is familiar with how the original St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, but how many people know that St. Patrick made a special visit to Fond du Lac last Saturday during their annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade? He came to “Drive the Snakes Out of Wisconsin” as part of a float entered by the grassroots group ACCESS (Area Concerned Citizens for Equality Strength and Success). Over 20 concerned, creative and highly motivated citizens took part in the float. A giant hat tip goes to Steve Hazell for his great video. It not only shows what happened at the parade, it shows some great footage from the protests last year at the capital. This video is another example of how creative, progressive people come from all over the state, not just Madison. It’s worth a watch or five.
Even though ACCESS is just starting out I anticipate they will be doing a lot of good things in their community.
Their mission statement is as follows:
The mission of ACCESS is to strengthen the community in order to be heard and hold elected officials accountable to the interests of working and middle class people. ACCESS promotes understanding through advocacy, education and public service.
This past year, I have been a frequent participant in the Solidarity Sing Along protests held every weekday in or just outside the Wisconsin Capitol. One of the songs we sing is “Bring Back Wisconsin to Me”, sung to the tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”, with new lyrics by Lou and Peter Berryman. It’s a great little protest song that almost dares you to swing your arms back and forth while you sing “Ohhhh…bring back, bring back, oh bring back Wisconsin to me, to me…!”
So we do. We sway while we sing that song.
At some point in the nearly 300 Sing Alongs that have been held since March of 2011, it was suggested that we sway carefully to avoid hitting the person next to us while we swing our arms. It was also discovered that it helps if everyone starts swaying in the same direction.
The advice about proper Sing Along etiquette has become an inside joke that is repeated whenever we sing “Bring Back Wisconsin to Me”. The leader calls out “You may sway if you wish, but if you sway…”, and the crowd yells back “Sway Responsibly!” We usually have a few visitors who laugh. Many of the regulars still laugh, too. Often the joke is followed by a few people advising the newbies to always start to the left. Wink, wink.
It’s a good reminder in politics as well as in choreography. Perhaps if Scott Walker had known enough to sway responsibly, he wouldn’t be in the mess he’s in right now – another budget deficit, record job losses, at least half the voters in the state disgusted with him, and his recall election soon to be scheduled. I won’t even mention the John Doe investigation. Oops. Too late.
As we begin the process of selecting someone to run against Scott Walker from the left, we need to do the same thing the singers do every day in the Capitol. We need to move left, but we need to sway in that direction, not just shove each other out of the way to stake out claims. We need to sway responsibly. That means union leaders have to avoid the temptation to endorse the first person who promises them everything they want. It means center-left Democrats and moderate Republicans who have joined in the fight have to acknowledge that the movement began as a defensive action against the stripping of collective bargaining rights, and that the fight will not be over until those rights have been restored. It means that the leaders of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin must keep all the doors open and all the lights on as they guide the process of selecting a nominee.
We need to continue talking to each other so we know what everyone expects and what everyone is willing to contribute. As we did last year during the big rallies on the square, we need to turn and listen to each other individually, not just cheer someone speaking from a podium at the top of the Capitol steps.
Our fight began with Labor, but the demonstrations grew into a coalition, then a movement because it also became a fight to restore funds for public education and health care. It became a fight to restore environmental regulations, and a fight to take back the local control that Scott Walker and the Republican legislature said they favored, but stole from the citizens as soon as they had the chance.
Finally, it has now become a fight to simply restore decency and integrity to our state government. Every day, new revelations are highlighting the corruption, pay-for-play, and plain old theft of public resources being perpetrated by Governor Walker and his cronies. To truly bring back Wisconsin, we must include on the agenda a vigorous plan to bring back open government where everyone’s voice is heard. Taking unlimited, private money out of our politics has to be a priority.
It’s not either/or. It’s a fight for all those things, no matter how the fight began, and it won’t be over until every battle has been won, to quote a line from another protest song.
A primary election for governor is a great way for us to start working together. It’s clear that this will be an election like no other in Wisconsin’s history. Let’s treat it that way. Let’s be patient but assertive as we do it together, arm in arm, singing in unison as we sway to the left. Let us each promise that we will not go home until every item on the checklist has been marked “completed.” Some will be very difficult to accomplish, so we must take advantage of every opportunity to progress, regardless of where that opportunity resides on the agenda.
We will not succeed unless everyone commits to staying until we’ve sung the final chorus of “Bring Back Wisconsin to Me”. Then we’ll sing one more chorus just for fun, and one more after that to teach it to the next generation.
I am not endorsing any candidate for Governor of Wisconsin right now because I think it’s still too early.
Would you listen to me anyway?
I could enjoy delusions of grandeur but I’m not a heavy hitter like Wisconsin’s union for education staff, WEAC. I have about 4,100 followers on twitter. WEAC has over 98,000 dues-paying members, many of whom will stand out in the snow with a recall Walker petition if you ask them to. WEAC has asked them to stand in the snow, to march, and to donate to recalls and members have gladly gained solidarity and triumph doing so. Now WEAC is asking these people to adopt the candidate of its choice for governor without giving the rank and file an opportunity to vote on the matter. It doesn’t seem to be going over so well.
From Dan Bice of Milwaukee J. Sentinel, “Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk has won the endorsement of one of the state’s most powerful labor unions.” (Zach at Blogging Blue heard Mary Bell say WEAC “recommended” not “endorse” at a press conference). There’s always more to any of these decisions than the surface shows. For example, what significance is it that Wisconsin’s Dem Party Chair Mike Tate used to work for Kathleen Falk? But the generically accepted determining factor is Falk said she would veto a state budget over collective bargaining rights if necessary.
“I have said that I will veto a budget bill if it does not have collective bargaining,” Falk said. “The way you undo (Walker’s) damage is the same vehicle by which he did the damage.”
From what I’m reading, it’s not as if the other Dems interviewed by union leaders [4 candidates in all I hear] were adverse to reversing Walker’s agenda. It’s just that they weren’t going to agree to hold the state’s cash flow hostage to do it– an action that Kathleen Vinehout called “brinksmanship”.
On the good side, the union and their chosen candidate are making their intentions transparent [unlike, for example, 81 GOP legislators who last year signed a secrecy pact to keep details about redistricting secret from you and I while charging the Wisconsin taxpayer $400,000]. On the good side, the needs of working people are being put at the top of the agenda not at the bottom or to the side as we saw in the veiled language advocating for “the middle class” in the recalls of last summer.
On the bad side I’m seeing a strong rejection of WEAC’s decision and Falk.
And there are the polls:
“Tom Barrett would be the top choice of Wisconsin Democrats to take on Scott Walker,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “If he doesn’t run they’d prefer David Obey. Kathleen Falk is not at the top of voters’ lists.”
See the footnotes for why I hope Milwaukee’s mayor Tom Barrett stays out of the race.
Going in early to organize the army. Looks like the army is no longer taking orders.
The players supporting Kathleen Falk can count on the drip, drip, drip of information about the John Doe investigation circling Scott Walker to create a darker cloud over the man every day as more and more local newspapers and TV stations broadcast juicy details. They believe that while in one TV ad viewers will hear “It’s working”, in the next ad they’ll hear, “And at 5 learn about the latest Scott Walker aide to be charged with a felony.” Hell, they might hear “learn about the criminal charge against Scott Walker”.
Still, Walker will have the air wave ads. A labor-friendly contender would need to completely dominate the ground game. According to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, from 1999 to 2010 the ratio of business to labor union contributions for all candidates statewide and in legislative districts was $12 to $1. Walker’s adversary needs the army of 30,000 recall volunteers to stand behind him or her. I’m guessing that WEAC has a good idea of how many teachers are in that army and it’s high.
I have met a lot of current and former teachers who were recall petition volunteers on my stops in Jefferson, Watertown, Wausau, Madison, Sun Prairie, and parts North.
But the negative response online to WEAC’s endorsement was immediate and virulent. Of the many comments from WEAC’s facebook page:
“Your three posts tonight endorsing Kathleen Falk do not make me believe this is a good candidate. Member for 17 years. I am so disappointed.”
“I just received an email from WEAC: “WEAC members recommend Kathleen Falk for governor.” I have yet to speak to one of these members.”
“Ummmm….shouldn’t the members get a say on this since we are all a part of this UNION?? Very disappointed….AGAIN…..”
“Ms. Falk has a great deal of work to do in order to convince me she is the champion we seek. I am very upset that no input was asked from the locals before an official endorsement was given.”
Walker vs Falk would be a 9 point win at least. Can’t wait. At this point I want Barrett to give up”
“Sleepy Eye @sleepyeye11
They don’t know who’s running yet MT @swell:WEAC backs Falk? No, no no please NO. jsonline.com/blogs/news/138… #wiunion”
A lesser reason to go early.
Walker has signaled that he wants to get the recall done earlier rather than later.* The less time the recall verification takes, the less time the Dems have to organize and raise money. You can look at whatever G.A.B. says and their current policies to give you a sign of what’s to come however the G.A.B is controlled by Walker through the power of the rules committee and Act 21. G.A.B.’s Kevin Kennedy has hinted at June at the earliest. Frankly, he doesn’t know when the election will be and I don’t either.
“What part of “lost two statewide elections” do they not understand?” – twitter
Many – this blogger included – don’t see Falk as a strong statewide candidate. She lost a statewide race in 2002 she ran for Governor and lost. In 2006 she ran for Attorney General and lost. She’ll have to deal with wearing a scarlet “D” for “Dane County liberal” (well, more fittingly it should be a deep cobalt blue)
Odd thing is, Falk has a better chance of winning a state race than a Dane County one due to shoddy treatment of Peg Laughtenschlager in a previous campaign and Peg’s later meteoric rise in standing after doing legal work to open the Capitol building. I heard through the grapevine that when Falk visited the Solidarity Sing Along in the rotunda she got a tepid smattering of applause. For the record, any visiting Dem14 senator gets sustained, raucous applause.
What about the other candidates? How can they return collective bargaining rights?
So the other Dem candidates that unions interviewed would not vow to publicly stoop to the level of Scott Walker by inserting policy in the budget [which I’ve heard has happened repeatedly whether you’re looking at a Dem or GOP Governor]. And by “policy” I mean collective bargaining rights. Which then makes one ask, how would these dignified legislators proceed in reversing Walker’s agenda?
If you’ve watched any session of Wisconsin’s Assembly at all in the past year, you’ve seen Dems parade a list of amendments in front of an unbending wall of obstinance from the other side of the aisle. Bills in the Assembly are voted in lockstep, by the GOP. Time and time again bloggers have pointed out to you that ALEC writes bills that so-called “author” GOP legislators haven’t even read. The GOP Assembly is predicted to maintain its majority this year. At the moment there are 59 GOP, 39 Dem, and 1 Independent among them.
I think it is possible to change the character of the Assembly with a LOT of elbow grease. The aspiration to overturn the Assembly would come from the dreaming, passionate, driven grassroots who made the recalls happen and who are committed to straight forward democracy. (My personal opinion is that we need to do it, all your consultants be damned.)
Other options I think of (and please comment on whatever schemes you have that I miss) are manipulating statutes through the rules committee and changing the character of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The first option is authoritarian the second is another uphill fight with unsure outcome. Changing the court could come through a recall of Gableman and subsequent election and then a challenge to WI Act 10 again.
It is a wild card race and this actually works in favor of any Dem contender. In that PPP poll I cite earlier, I noticed this: “There’s a great deal of interest in the potential primary beyond the Democratic base. We find that 30% of likely voters for it are independents and 11% are even Republicans.” We have been hearing about a remarkable number of Republicans who have signed the recall petition against Walker. They are in the recall army. A good number of those petitioners will ultimately vote, and they won’t vote for Walker. They will be ready for something completely different.
*Election Timing Footnote:
I address this next thing to get it out of the way: There is a sliver of a chance that Walker removes all veneer of democracy, bares his fangs, and forces the recall to coincide with April 3rd (the presidential primary date in Wisconsin). This would be done under the guise of saving money (last estimate on the recall cost was $9 million) and with the power of Act 21 but it would backfire with the public. If we saw that come to pass we’d have no doubt the entire election was rigged.
Tom Barrett: While he has name recognition and — let’s put any policy disagreements aside — I believe he is a man of good character. But his lack of savvy – to not be ready to answer the question, “Did you sign Scott Walker’s recall petition?” To not understand that he had to not only have signed it but to do it with a brass band in tow and surrounded by the press – just put aside what you think of the answer and note that he was not ready for it, he did not latch onto the power of it, and he has no clue how relevant it is to the current climate. This is a continuation of what I saw from him in his failed 2010 campaign against Walker and made me feel he would lose all over again.
Falk’s staff:David Axelrod’s (chief strategist and media advisor for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign) former consulting firm, AKPD Message and Media and One Wisconsin Now’s Scot Ross are working on the campaign. Meagan Mahaffey,formerly Executive Director of United Wisconsin, is Falk’s campaign manager. Rumor has it that Teresa Vilmain is working as a Falk strategist while Rory McCarron is her “New Media Director”. More on her staff is here.
There’s a very important hearing regarding a proposed mining operation going on at the Hurley Inn auditorium starting at 10 this morning. Badger Democracy has done an excellent write up on this hearing. If you have a chance, I highly recommend taking the time to read their post. It can be found here.
Mike Simonson from Wisconsin Public Radio reports that a large group is expected at this meeting.
“Ashland-area groups opposed to the mining bill expect to turn out 200 people, enough to fill the 200-capacity Hurley Inn auditorium.”
From the same article:
“The legislation, AB 426, was introduced at the request of a Florida-based mining company that wants to open up a large taconite mining and processing operation in southern Ashland County on the Iron County border. The company wants several state environmental regulations changed along with timelines shortened for permit approval and any appeals. It would be Wisconsin’s largest-ever iron ore mining operation and the first large operation in decades, rivaling Hibbing Taconite, the second-largest operation in Minnesota.”
Shouldn’t all legislation come from the people of this state and not some out of state company? Our governor has made a really big deal about “outside agitators” in regards to the protests that happened in and around the capital last year. Wouldn’t a Florida-based company be considered at least an “outsider”? Why is it considered alright for them to request legislation so they can increase their profits?
I hope there will be many people who can attend the meeting this morning, unfortunately it was scheduled during a time when most people will be working. If you can’t make it to the meeting in person you can either listen live at Wisconsin Public Radio stations KUWS-FM (91.3) and WUWS-FM (90.9) or online at http://www.wpr.org. Badger Democracy reports:
“On December 16, 2011, Bewley and Jauch sent a Letter to the Committee on Jobs offering a site and time they had already reserved for their “informal hearing.” They offered the Ashland High School Auditorium from 10am-6pm on Saturday, January 7 to be used as the venue for the official public hearing. Not only did Williams not accept the offer, she made no response to her colleagues at all.”
So, planners of this meeting had the opportunity to schedule the meeting when more people could be there to voice their opinion on the mine. In a democracy all voices need to be heard. Meetings should be held at a time and place convenient to the largest number of people. Deciding the future of our beautiful north woods is a serious matter. Everyone should be able to have their say on the issue, not just those in agreement.
Indiana Republicans have put so called “right-to-work” legislation on a “fast track” in the hopes of having it passed into law before the Super Bowl on February 5th of this year. Republicans want to avoid negative the media attention of mass protests going on at the capital. If they want to avoid the potential for bad media attention, wouldn’t it make more sense to introduce it say February 6th? Indiana citizens should be given more time to become educated on the bill and what it means to their communities. There should be thoughtful discussion and many public hearings around the state on this matter. This will impact the lives of everyone in Indiana. In my opinion it’s too important to “fast track”.
There is a joint committee hearing schedule on “right-to-work” legislation today, January 6th 2012 starting at 8 am local time. It’s interesting that the house legislation technically doesn’t exist as of yet because it hasn’t been introduced in the house. So, they are going to take testimony on a bill that hasn’t been introduced yet? Isn’t that similar to putting the cart before the horse?
“House Democrats boycotted session for a second consecutive day Thursday, which prevented House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis — a top right-to-work proponent — from introducing House Bill 1001 and assigning it to committee.”
There is an identical bill in the state senate, Senate Bill 269 that will be eligible for a vote next week if it’s passed in committee today.
From the same article:
“Joint committees are rarely used at the Statehouse because the Indiana Constitution expects the House and Senate to give separate consideration to pending legislation.”
Last February Republicans tried to pass the same sort of legislation. House Democrats fled the state to stop passage. They stayed out for a record 36 days and incurred a total of more than $100,000 in fines. House Republicans wanted to make sure this didn’t happen again so they crafted a law that increased fines for walking out during a legislative session to $1,000 a day. That’s on top of other other fines. I guess Republicans are using the mantra “If you don’t succeed, try, try again” because here it is a new year and they are trying to do it again. They certainly are a persistent group, aren’t they?
James P. Hoffa did a great write up on the issue at the Huffington Post. It’s well worth the read if you get a chance. The part that really caught my eye is the following. This list will seem eerily familiar to anyone following state politics around the country. In my humble opinion it almost seems like many state Republicans are following the exact same political “play book”.
“These politicians have no shame.
They have: cribbed the bill’s language from pre-written legislation influenced by out-of-state corporations like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and Duke Energy; run television commercials paid for by secret donors; tried to severely restrict public – but not lobbyist – access to the Statehouse;
put out dishonest “studies” underwritten by such anti-worker groups as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the National Right to Work Committee, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and a corporate advocacy group from Oklahoma; claimed companies refused to move to Indiana because it wasn’t a right-to-work state. When pressed, they couldn’t name a single company that decided not to relocate to Indiana because of that.”
A hat tip goes to brave house Republicans three who have publicly stated they won’t support “right-to-work” legislation. There are a few others that say they haven’t made a final decision on the bill. I’m hoping that more House Republicans will decide to do what’s best for the people of Indiana and vote against it.
“Not all Republicans have fallen in line. At least three GOP House members from union-heavy districts have said publicly they won’t support the legislation that Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has said is one of his top priorities. They include Rep. Tom Dermody from LaPorte, Rep. Ed Soliday of Valparaiso, and Rep. Ron Bacon of Boonville.”
Indiana House Democrats deserve a lot of respect for standing up for the people in their state. This legislation is too important to rush and should concern everyone in the country, not just those people residing in Indiana. It could come to your state next if it doesn’t get stopped here. There needs to be more public hearings on the matter. The public need to be educated on what this bill really means to them and their communities.
Please consider donating to the Indiana House Democrats if you can. They are facing huge personal financial burdens for doing what is right. They have set up a donation page at ActBlue. It can be found here. I had to chuckle at the donation amount section of the page. For a quick giggle, take a peak at the comment next to the $500 donation. During the height of the protests in Wisconsin, people from around the world were donating Ian’s pizzas to the protesters. The pizza donations warmed the hearts and stomachs of the protesters occupying the capital in Madison. Let’s all show similar solidarity with the legislators in Indiana.
The following post is based on reports from social media and from the video above. Zach W. at Blogging Blue has also covered this incident. His post is worth the read. I find myself with more questions than answers regarding what’s being shown on this video. Why would anyone say something to the effect of “You are being harassed and pretty soon you’re going to be killed” when they know they are being videotaped, especially when they know their company vehicle and license plate number are also on the video? In my humble opinion everyone should be condemning this behavior. Wisconsin, we are better than this. We can disagree politically without it coming to threats and or harassment. I have some “feelers” out there and hope to gather more information on this later in the day. Stay tuned for the developing story.
Do you ever feel like you miss the “good old days” of the Madison protests? Here’s your chance to relive them from the comfort of your own home. December 14 from 4-8 pm there will be a book signing and social event for the book “Cut from Plain Cloth” at the City Center Plaza in Appleton. Click here for driving directions. It is the perfect opportunity to meet with and share your own protest stories with the author, like minded people and local elected officials. The best part is it’s all done in the warmth of the great indoors, so there’s no need to bundle up for this event.
Green Gecko Grocer and Deli is offering $2.50 micro brew Wisconsin beers for the event. Copies of the book will be for sale at this event and the author will sign them for you. It will make the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person on your list.
“Cut from Plain Cloth” was written by Dennis Weidemann and features stories and people from the protests last winter. Every protester had their own unique story to tell. The 19 stories and 150 pictures in the book are sure to keep this wonk busy for hours.
“In his newly published hardcover book, Cut From Plain Cloth: The 2011 Wisconsin Workers Protests, Weidemann combines photos and stories collected by conducting interviews while marching with protesters in the largest protests Wisconsin has seen in 40 years. With 19 stories interspersed among 150 photographs, Weidemann tells the stories of the faces in the crowds and “paints an intimate portrait of protesters as diverse as America itself.” Even upon a quick perusal of this book, one begins to realize that the rosy-cheeked folks rallying around Capitol in the snow and freezing cold were more than just out of state agitators, thugs, and slobs. They were librarians, laborers, police officers, farmers, students, nurses, firemen, war veterans, teachers, grandmothers, and entire families…from Wisconsin.”
There is a Facebook event for this happening. Please join this event and share it with all of your like minded friends and family. It’s sure to be a great time!
Contact Victoria with any questions you may have. She can be reached by (920) 427-7653 or email email@example.com
Richard Schoenbohm has entered the campaign fray to run for Wisconsin’s 56th Assembly District. He is one of two Democratic candidates to run against incumbent Michelle Litjens. The other Democratic challenger is Diana Lawrence. Click here to see my post about her kick off celebration.
Richard’s campaign web page can be found here. There is a lot of good background information there.
Richard’s blogger biography.
“I grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin. As a lawyer, I have helped the people of Outagamie and Winnebago Counties since 1980. For 21 years I owned and ran an Appleton business. My family is central to my life. I raised two daughters in Appleton. My parents and two brothers live here too. I have worked with my brother Michael since 1987. My community is second in importance only to my family. I have been the president of the Kiwanis Club of Applton and of A Better Chance of Appleton. I have served on church endowment funds,the Appleton Medical Center Foundation, and other community organizaitions. I sit on the City of Appleton Board of Appeals. In 2008, I fulfilled a lifetime dream of serving in the Peace Corps. After returning from observing and assisting the Romanian govenment, I saw that I could help my own community preserve its cherished freedoms and good government. This is my promise and commitment: I will roll up my sleves, get to work to ensure fair and effective govenment for each and every person.”
From the site:
“Now all of us need to work together to restore fairness and justice to Wisconsin. To begin with, our public employees must be respected and their voice at the bargaining table restored. The deficit must be cut, but not on the backs of the working men and women of Wisconsin. It can be done if the rich and corporations pay their fair share. And jobs must be created by targeted government investment in education and infrastructure, and through relief to small businesses, not by handouts to big corporations.
Let’s make government work for us again. The people of Assembly District 56 want a legislator dedicated to community and service; with leadership and a work-ethic; willing to listen and learn; with a balanced approach; willing to stop the fighting and get things done. Let’s give them the legislator they deserve. Roll up your sleeves. Help me take this district back for the people.”
I look forward to hearing and seeing more from Richard. This is really shaping up to be an exciting run for Wisconsin’s 56th Assembly District. FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!
Score another win for progress in Appleton, WI. Last night the Appleton Common Council adopted the proposal by Ald. Teege Mettille to give health and dental benefits to registered same-sex domestic partners for both union and nonunion city employees. This is an expansion of the September 7 vote by the Appleton Common Council to offer registered same-sex domestic partners to nonunion city employees only. We’re getting one small step closer to equality in this country and I, for one, am pretty excited about it.
“To audible gasps and sighs from the 30-person audience, the Appleton Common Council voted 10-6 to extend health and dental coverage to registered same-sex domestic partners of city employees.”
It’s about time that same-sex committed couple start receiving benefits previously reserved for opposite-sex partners. There’s still a long way to go, but this is a step in the right direction.
However, not everyone agrees with my assessment. More from the article.
“Ald. Jeff Jirschele expressed concern that the council’s action would benefit a “narrow band” of employees and unfairly ignore unmarried opposite-sex couples.
Jirschele said those couples may not want to or be able to obtain legal recognition of their relationships — something the health and dental benefit policy requires.
“That makes them no less a domestic partnership,” Jirschele said. “The value of the marriage contract is less and less attractive as a choice.””
One point he brought up is that this measure ignores opposite-sex domestic couples. Heterosexual couples have the option to marry each other. Homosexual couples do not have this choice. The only legal commitment same-sex couples can make to each other is the domestic partnership. I do however agree with the premise that all registered domestic partners should be receive the same benefits. That would be equal treatment as domestic partnerships, whether same-sex or opposite-sex are showing the same level of legal commitment to each other.
Jirschele said unmarried opposite-sex couples who “may not want to or are able to obtain legal recognition of their relationships” are just as much a domestic partnership as couples who have registered their partnership. Living together is not the same as a domestic partnership. There is a legal process involved with getting recognized as a couple. Couples who seek legal recognition of their relationship tend to be more committed than those who do not.
It would be interesting to see how this would play out in real life if unmarried opposite-sex couples could get health benefits. For one, the couples wouldn’t have to provide proof they were a couple. Marriage and domestic partner registration is proof of a serious, long-term commitment. Sharing an address with someone else doesn’t prove commitment. It just proves you live together.
Secondly, why would anyone want to provide partner benefits to someone who isn’t qualified to be legally recognized as a couple? I could see a lot of strange situations surrounding that one. In these difficult economic times, more family members are cohabiting to save money. What’s stopping any two opposite gender family members from asking for partner benefits simply because they live together? What’s to stop a married, but separated person, from moving in with someone else and asking for benefits for the new person? Would the official spouse still be eligible for benefits? There are too many variables to cover each one. Suffice to say, it could get complicated very quickly if the city can’t definitively prove who is and who is not a committed couple. Marriage and registered domestic partnerships offer this proof.
Also from the article:
“Ald. Kathy Plank said requiring couples to acquire whatever legal status is available to them — same-sex domestic partnership or marriage — would be a “prudent and responsible” way to protect the city against fraud, an argument Council President Cathy Spears supported.”
I agree with Kathy’s sentiment. Offering same-sex partner benefits to all city workers is a good start, but I think same-sex marriage would be the best way to clear up any equal treatment questions. Offering same-sex domestic partnerships doesn’t provide the same rights and protections as marriage. If marriage and domestic partnerships were exactly the same there would be no need for opposite-sex domestic partnerships. If heterosexual couples can have domestic partnerships, homosexual couples should be given the option to marry. History has proven time and time again that separate is not equal when it comes to education or anything else. The same is true for how we recognize couples and families in society.
Appleton Alderman Jim Clemons asked the Common Council to revisit same sex domestic partner benefits for nonunion city employees. This measure was defeated last night, but will probably be brought up again on November 9th when the council meets to adopt the 2012 budget. Here’s a list of both public and private employers that offer same sex partner benefits.
Of course, Jo Egelhoff and Berry Bovee, spokespeople for Appleton Taxpayers United were present at the meeting. Click here for one of my previous posts about Appleton Taxpayers United. From Michael Vinson of the Appleton Post Crescent.
“During the public hearing and again moments before the council voted, former Ald. Jo Egelhoff and Perry Bovee — leaders of the group Appleton Taxpayers United — chided the council for the way the policy was adopted and asked them to revisit the issue.”
Some of the comments caught my attention.
““We all have the freedom to believe as we like, to pursue our own affairs,” said Bob Stratton of Appleton. “But it is against my moral beliefs … I do not want my money that I’ve worked hard for to go supporting their lifestyles.””
Bob Stratton says that same sex domestic partner benefits goes against his “moral beliefs”. I believe it’s moral to treat all families, both homosexual and heterosexual the same. He said that he doesn’t want his hard earned money going towards “supporting their lifestyles”. City workers work hard for their pay and benefits. Does a heterosexual worker work harder than his/her homosexual coworker? Of course not, so why should heterosexual workers potentially get more compensation than a homosexual worker?
“John Cox of Appleton said the policy has “moral implications” and worried the benefits are a sign that Appleton is “slouching toward Gomorrah” only to become a “little Madison of the north.””
Really, this guy really said that treating all nonunion city workers equally shows that Appleton is “slouching toward Gomorrah” and will become a “little Madison of the north”? It’s tough knowing even where to start with his comments. To me this policy does have “moral implications”. It means Appleton is willing and able to treat everyone equally. That’s something to be celebrated, not cursed or taken back. He also mentions “slouching toward Gomorrah”. I’ve heard/seen that comment before. It seems to be a common talking point these days. As far as “little Madison of the north”. Is John implying that the only gay people in Wisconsin live in Madison or does he mean that liberal people only live in the Madison area? I’ve run into quite a few people that truly believe that Madison is the only place in the state where progressive people live. I hate to break it to them, but it’s simply not the case. There are many good, progressive voices here in the valley and they’re getting louder every year. For the record I would welcome the label of “little Madison of the north” because in my mind it beats Appleton’s current claims to fame of being the hometown of Senator Joe McCarthy and John Birch Society headquarters.
The meeting then moved onto heart breaking testimony.
“Darla Barker of Shiocton, whose openly gay teenage son, Cody, died by suicide last fall after he was bullied at school, choked back tears as she spoke.
“Cody could have been your son, your nephew,” Barker said. “It is so very important we educate others to make sure we are a safe and welcoming community for all … We lead by example.”
No parent for any reason should outlive their children. Losing a child to suicide is a horror I can’t even begin to imagine. Openly bullying LGBT students happens everywhere in this country and many students have killed themselves as a direct result of this bullying. We can and must do better by our LGBT students in the Fox River Valley. Every student must feel safe and welcome, not only at school, but in the community at large.
“Maria Peeples, Barker’s peer mentor through GSA for Safe Schools, said he was a passionate activist for all students, especially those, “targeted or ostracized for their sexual orientation or their gender identity and expression… He really cared about making schools a safe place for students. That wasn’t always his own experience with school.””
The thing that really caught my attention is a comment at this page. It speaks volumes for what the LGBT community faces here in the Fox Valley every day.
“I’m from Appleton, WI and lived in terror each day of high school that I would be outed. It truly does get better. I came out as soon as I left.”
Do we really want the children in our community living in “terror” because they are afraid people will find out who they are? School should be a safe place to learn and grow as people, not a place to fear and dread because of bullying. I almost lost a friend to suicide because he was bullied after being outed. Luckily for him he was allowed to finish high school doing home schooling, but it shouldn’t have been that way. He should have felt safe enough to return to school and shouldn’t have been bullied at all. He was such a bright, kind and caring person I still have a problem imagining why anyone would want to hurt him.
Appleton has the opportunity to start embracing all members of the community and give equal treatment to all nonunion city employees. Opponents say that we can’t “afford” to pay for extra benefits right now or they don’t “morally approve” of same sex couples. Appleton can’t afford to treat any of its workers unfairly. Our children are watching, we need to set a clear example for them that fair treatment is expected as part of every day life. We should embrace same sex domestic partner benefits because it’s the fair and right thing to do.
Who is Appleton Taxpayers United and why should anyone care? My curiosity was piqued while writing this post on same sex domestic partner health insurance coverage, sick and bereavement leave for Appleton’s non-union city workers. Offering these benefits to same sex couples seemed like a good idea. It also shows the world that despite this area’s conservative reputation, Appleton can show glimmers of being progressive. What surprised me is discovering a group devoted to defeating this measure. This group is called Appleton Taxpayers United.
From their web site:
To ensure that our city government officials perform their duties in a responsible and transparent way.
To ensure that the voices of the electors are heard.
To ensure that our tax dollars are spent wisely.
Signed this 1st day of October, 2011
Co-chairs, Appleton Taxpayers United”
Those sound like noble and worthy goals for any organization. What prompted them to form this group?
Also from their web site:
“On September 7th, in a 10-6 vote, the Appleton Common Council approved a plan to give health benefits to same-sex domestic partners of non-union city employees and extend sick and bereavement leave to same-sex and opposite sex domestic partners.
This issue came up very quickly with zero publicity and very little discussion. That concerns us.
It’s part of our mission statement to ensure that our city government officials perform their duties in a responsible and transparent way.”
So, let’s see if I’m understanding this correctly, this group was formed because they are “concerned” that city government is not acting in a transparent manner regarding same sex domestic partner benefits? Creating a political group because they didn’t like one decision seems like an extreme reaction to me. Normal people usually send “strongly worded letters” to the editor of their local paper or contact government officials to voice their concerns. Extremely agitated people create political organizations.
The Appleton Taxpayers United web site was even kind enough to supply the names of the alderpersons who voted for same sex domestic partner benefits. They are Christoph Wahl, John Robin Hill, Curt Konetzke, Jeff Lutz, Kathy Plank, Joe Martin, Peter Stueck, Teege Mettille, Cathy Spears and Kole Oswold. Remember to thank them individually if you have the chance.
Appleton Taxpayers United has a profile on Facebook. It can be found here. I prefer the parody site that can be found here. It seems I’m not the only one who prefers the alternate site. So far, 20 people have liked the parody page as opposed to 7 liking the official page.
But back to my original point. Is giving equal rights to all city workers such a horrible threat that those who oppose it need to form a political organization to combat it? What special brand of hate does it take to fight fair play and equal treatment for everyone? How is it moral deny benefits to same sex households? We need to support elected officials at all levels who put “their money where there mouth is” and vote for what’s right.
On September 7 of this year I had a brief shining moment of pride in my hometown of Appleton, WI. The Appleton Common Counsel approved same sex partner benefits for city employees. It gave me hope that maybe, just maybe Outagamie County, in specific Appleton is going back to its progressive roots. I didn’t write about this initially because I felt that doing the right thing was the natural progression of any civilized society, boy was I wrong. It seems that every time there is a movement toward social equality there is an equal, yet opposite movement that wants to make sure progress doesn’t happen.
This time the anti progress contingent is called “Appleton Taxpayers United”. This newly formed group wants to repeal same sex partner benefits and is led by Perry Bovee and Jo Egelhoff. Many people are talking the character of these people. This post won’t cover that subject because it’s being more than adequately covered elsewhere.
On September 23, Bovee published an open letter in the Post Crescent. Here’s a quote from his letter:
“This cancer must be killed before it spreads. Fortunately, Wisconsin statute 9.20 provides a way to overturn this immoral and fiscally imprudent policy through direct legislation by referendum.
We intend to make this the signature campaign issue for Hanna, mayoral candidate Konetzke and the aldermen up for re-election in April by putting this question to a referendum: “Shall the city of Appleton provide taxpayer funded benefits to same-sex domestic partners?”
“We expect that Fair Wisconsin and other homosexual rights groups will invade Appleton to fight us. We look forward to the battle.””
How can anyone think of “repealing” fair employee treatment or call it “fiscally impudent”? Providing equal treatment for everyone is about doing what’s right. I’m reminded of a quote from Martin Luther King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Repealing same sex partner benefits would be a social injustice that Appleton can’t afford.
First he calls fair treatment of all employees a “cancer” that is “immoral and fiscally imprudent”. Wait, what? How is it immoral to treat all employees equally or is he implying that homosexuals are a “cancer” that must be stopped? How can anyone call a person a “cancer”? That seems to be mean spirited at best and bigoted at worst.
He then goes on to say that Appleton will be “invaded” by Fair Wisconsin and other homosexual rights groups. Really? Appleton is going to be “invaded”? Bovee’s comment makes it sound like the only people who support equal treatment are “invaders”. There are many Appleton residents that support this measure. Does being progressive make them “invaders”? Who does Bovee think will invade Appleton? There is an unspoken belief among many local conservatives that progressives only live in Madison. That’s not true. Progressives live everywhere in the state and there are some great progressive voices in Appleton.
Talking about “outside agitators” is a standard tactic used by the GOP and well know by anyone following state wide politics. How many times in the last few months has Governor Walker spoken of the protesters in Madison as “outside agitators”? While I’m not sure of the exact number of times, I do know he’s said it often enough to become a joke among Wisconsin’s political wonks.
According to an October 3rd article from the Post Crescent, “One option involves a petition drive to force a referendum on the issue for the general election next April — a tall task that requires collecting nearly 4,000 signatures in 60 days.”
“Appleton Taxpayers United knocked on doors this past Saturday in five aldermanic districts represented by alderpersons who were among the 10 council members who voted for the policy on Sept. 7.
Appleton Taxpayers United asked voters in those districts to sign a petition opposing the policy.”
“The five districts were: District 2 (John Robin Hill), District 4 (Jeff Lutz), District 8 (Joe Martin), District 9 (Peter Stueck) and District 12 (Cathy Spears).”
Appleton Taxpayers United may get enough signatures on their petition to put to referendum. Perry Bovee is wrong on many of his points, but I agree with him on one. This could shape up to be an epic battle, but it’s just not quite the battle he thinks it will be. He envisions a “cancer” spreading throughout Appleton in the form of legions of homosexuals and their supporters. I foresee a lot of local people fighting to keep fair play and equal treatment part of what makes Appleton a great place to live and work.
Look for continued coverage of this developing story as I have a feeling there are going to be many twists and turns before the dust settles. I also plan on doing a bit of my own investigation into this topic. Appleton’s Common Counsel did something right when they approved same sex couple benefits for city workers. Let’s keep the momentum in Appleton going “forward”, not backward.
A few important bits of info:
There is a 5:30PM General Assembly meeting tonight Tuesday 10/11 at the top of State Street next to the Veterans Museum to determine a site for occupation tonight and subsequent nights.
There is a meeting of a working group devoted to outreach on Thursday, October 13th
5 PM at Michelangelo’s Coffee House at 114 State St. in Madison.
I did not have the ability to live blog yesterday due to lack of net + inability to get a borrowed cell phone to charge off of my laptop. Such is probably the nature of any one of the occupation sites across the globe given the fact that they happen on lawns, sidewalks, and parks. But I know that Madison’s occupy experience on this sunny dry weekend is luxurious in comparison to some others. So much so that a friend supportive of the occupiers joked that it should be called “Invitation Madison” instead of “Occupy Madison”.
In New York a protester might be maced or beaten. In Seattle protesters’ve been dragged out of tents. In Los Angeles and Chicago, protesters have huddled in steady rains. In Madison, the worst experience I saw so far this weekend was mine: being locked out of the Capitol by a nervous cop who just saw 100 or so protesters march into his job site yesterday afternoon [the protesters promptly marched right out through the other side afterward]. Madison protesters have the great fortune of having a mayor who started his political career as a protester, organizing Dow Chemical protests at UW-Madison in the 60’s. So it was that Mayor Soglin negotiated with the protesters, the city parks department, and his police force to achieve a workable truce between all parties this weekend for an occupation at a small urban park on Madison’s East side, Reynolds Park. Protesters were welcome to stay overnight in the park until 7PM Sunday tonight. As to whether all individuals in the Occupy Madison contingent are in agreement on how to handle this 7PM kick-out… I’m not sure.
When close to 100 of the occupy folks marched to the Capitol yesterday at 3:30pm it was the hottest time of the day. We chanted “We are the 99%” and “This is what Democracy looks like” and other chants. Numerous passing cars and some motorcycles honked in support of us, some with arms waving out of car windows or fists raised in the air. We were chanting we are the 99% as we walked by a church where a man was smoking. I could see his mouth moving in sync with ours, obviously chanting along. I gave him sort of a high five that turned into gripping hands. A few minutes later I realized he’d joined us. As we rounded the square and approached the Capitol steps I stopped to take a photo and was asked by a couple of teens what we were doing. I gave them a quick description. Only one of the two actually paid attention-the 2nd had his head bent over his smartphone as he texted. The attentive teen had no clue about the occupy movement, or even the financial meltdown or the forclosure crisis. He said they both attend a boarding school in Columbus. Maybe that explains it?
Talking to them is what slowed me down and made me miss getting in the Capitol. If the door was open, they would have come with me. They were ready to.
In the course of my return back to Reynolds Park I listened-in as another protester talked to two women from Appleton who were in Madison visiting. We stood near Lady Forward and he talked much longer and louder than I can, making me seem a mouse in comparison. In fact another couple tourists wandered up to hear him during the course of his soapboxing. He talked about the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and how it broke down the firewall between citizens’ savings and risky investment. He railed against the lack of punishment for investors who got us into this mess. He said he’s angry that there’s nothing being done to protect Americans against continued foreclosures and homelessness as the aftereffects of the financial meltdown still ripple through America. And he told his personal story-of being laid off by Tyson Foods after years with a back injury and no health insurance to get surgery for it. By the time he was done, these women were ready to visit OccupyTogether – where he advised they go – to hook up with a local action.
I then walked back to Reynolds Park with some other folks as I talked to a man at least 15 years my junior. He knew Adbusters only as a site that helped spearhead the occupy movement and not as the glossy magazine you can find in Barnes and Noble – which is where I first saw the occupy movement’s poster of a ballerina balancing on Wall Street’s iconic bull.
The next highlight was a general assembly meeting, which was working very smoothly when I had to leave – an amazing turnaround considering that Friday night’s meeting was a very unwieldy affair in which the group figured out that nobody had ironed out an agenda and they didn’t really know how to facilitate a meeting.
I recorded lots of audio, but the following statement made by a young woman in the midst of the first night’s meeting got, I think, the loudest round of applause:
Troy Davis was murdered last month by the state of Georgia. He was an innocent man on Georgia’s death row. I don’t know how many people know that one of the things that helped Occupy Wall Street get started – one of the very important early actions – was when Occupy Wall Street dovetailed with a march of people who were furious that Troy Davis had been executed the night before. And why was he executed? Because there’s no such thing as a fair trial for a black man in Georgia. And the thing I want to say about that is I’ve been in campaigns for other death row prisoners who never should have been executed and were executed. And it’s always a tragedy but something that has never happened before is that the campaign lived on beyond the person. The number of people who I’ve heard speaking in Troy Davis’ memory is really unprecedented in my experience and to me what it reflects is that a whole number of us are saying that what they did to Troy Davis is what they want to do to all of us. Maybe not as an execution but they’re saying that they don’t give a shit about our lives. And the police brutality – everyone who has seen it has been disgusted by what they did to protesters in New York. It’s absolutely horrific to do that to people that are exercising their right to free speech. But we also know that that’s what they do every day in every black community in this country. So, I wanted to say that the 1 reason why I’m here at Occupy Madison is because I think there is a shift taking place in this country where all of us who are used to just accepting that professional politicians are in charge that rich people are make the decisions are saying that we don’t have to do that anymore. We are the majority and if the political system doesn’t run in our interest, we can make it run in our interest or we can make our own.
It seemed as if there was some net access last night at Madison’s Occupy in the Reynolds Park! Assuming there’s more today, I’ll add continued ongoing updates.
Here are some details helpful to visitors and [below] video, livestream from the event, and photos from last night:
–Map to Reynolds Park
-There should be free hot coffee there right now.
-About 300 – 400 people of all ages, colors, and cultures were there last night
-It’s possible to stay over night but if you use a tent with closed-in sides you’ll be in violation of city rules. However, open-sided tent canopies are OK by the city.
-The park gets quite dark at night. Bring a non-flame lantern and/or flashlight for your time there after nightfall.
-A general assembly will occur at 12 noon and at 5PM today.
-During last night’s general assembly, some discussion revolved around how to keep the honking of passing cars down for the comfort of neighbors. It’s something to think about as bedtime approaches.
-Word is that the great majority of the neighbors support the activities of Occupy Madison. Also, Mayor Soglin, the police department, and the parks department are flexing typical park rules for this event – a major flex being the allowance for sleepovers last night and tonight. When you arrive, you can find the “rules of the road” at the Info Tent as you come in. Last night, 2 officers were there and they promise a continued presence. I’d describe their attitude as friendly and casual.
I should warn that there is a troll who has created a fake facebook Occupy Madison identity. This individual went so far as to try to tell people the event was cancelled yesterday and called WORT FM hoping they would also fall for it. Where there is politics, there are trolls. If you see rumors, messages, or pages that seem “off”, your gut is probably correct. Do a double check on things with me here or at one of the other official locations. If you see more trolls crop up, report them here and to your friends and the main sites.
A final note: I am not an organizer for this event. I always want to reserve the right to be a critical S.O.B. if the need arises. That being said, I’m seeing a very positive dialog coming out of this movement and among these people. I find myself suspending cynicism and getting energized. For that, I want to say: Thank you Occupy Movement.