You’ve Protested at the Capital, Signed the Recall Papers, Now Get Out There and Vote

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!!!

Hizzoner Da Mayor versus Occupy Madison

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin threw a hissy fit yesterday about Occupy Madison, which he is determined to evict and close down—end of story—at the end of the month. And boy howdy was Soglin ever on the defensive. When it was suggested that the site didn’t cost the city anything, he said, “That is one of the most narrow, selfish statements I have ever heard.” Really, Mr. Mayor?

The highly visible Occupy encampment is located on the 800 block of E. Washington Ave. and currently houses about fifty women and men, which is, according to residents, as many as have lived there since the site was first occupied. The project is both innovative and empowering to its residents. The costs to the city have indeed been minimal, especially considering that the public service costs Soglin complains about would likely be incurred on behalf of the residents regardless of whether they were occupying the site on East Wash., sleeping in window wells, or staying at one of the city’s shelters. Unlike the Occupy encampment, the shelters limit the number of nights people can stay and require that they leave during the day. So every morning they’re back out on the streets, with no place to keep their things and few sources of support. But the Occupy encampment is different. It is run for and by those who live there and has come to mean a great deal to them.

And it’s not like the Occupiers are asking for all that much. They’d like an extension so they can stay on the East Wash. site until the end of June (just two more months), and then they’d like the city to help them find another location. They’re asking for a modicum of support so that they can continue helping and empowering themselves.

Fortunately, Occupy Madison has some friends on the Madison Common Council. In a meeting tonight at 6:30pm (second floor of the Madison Municipal Building, Wilson St.), the council will consider a resolution to extend the Occupiers’ permit until June 30. Soglin called yesterday’s news conference to register his vehement objection to the very modest resolution.

By Soglin’s own admission, the needs of Madison’s poor have multiplied in recent years. “‘When I left office in ’97, 28 percent of the children enrolled in Madison Public Schools came from families living at or below the poverty line,’ Soglin said. ‘That number is now 58 percent … as poverty and homelessness grows, the base for funding it shrinks.” So in other words, the needs are greater while resources are fewer. Should we not then explore new ways to meet those needs, especially ones that cost little and empower those who need help?

And those who need help could be any one of us at any time. An alarming number of us are one major medical bill away from poverty and homelessness. When the city turns its back on the homeless—or even just some of the homeless—it’s turning its back on all of us. This is a conversation about who we are. Are we a city that cares for its image more than for its residents? Are we more concerned about our reputation than our people?

Soglin squawked that “‘it is highly irresponsible for anyone to suggest that this city’s response to homelessness and poverty is anything less than stellar. We cannot be everything to everyone,’ he told the news reporters, homeless people and housing advocates who packed the conference room next to his office for a news conference Monday afternoon.'”

Wouldn’t a really “stellar” response to homelessness include pursuing low-cost opportunities to improve and broaden the services offered? If Soglin gets his way, Madison will lose a great opportunity to help some of our most vulnerable neighbors, to empower these Madisonians to help themselves and others in similar circumstances. Now what exactly are you calling narrow and selfish, Mr. Mayor?

Update: The inimitable Blue Cheddar reported this from last night’s council meeting: “Sorry but I stayed the whole Madison City Council meeting and there is no extension. The political will was not there to go forward on that. Madison Occupiers have to be out April 30th. The city public health official said they didn’t expect to be able to get another camping permit from the State of Wisconsin. The site was never zoned for camping in the first place. Also part of the extension scheme required that they relocate 60 people to a block that could by their density formula hold 25 people. Alder Lisa Stubeck said that some of the information staff [public health officials and police] gave earlier in the day had changed by this evening — which I assumed meant that Soglin pressured the staff to change their tune They did manage to commit some city and county officials to start serving on a homelessness commission for the first time. They managed to make sure that people can have their cars at the occupy site ’til April 30 instead of getting them yanked by April 22nd.”

Brenda Konkel, Executive Director of the Tenant Resource Center and intrepid advocate for those in need of low-cost housing, wrote yesterday and today about Occupy Madison’s plight.

Bad News for BadgerCare Plus

Frankly, I don’t have good news regarding the state of BadgerCare Plus. In another move that shows that Republicans don’t listen to their constituents and put corporations interests over people, the Joint Finance Committee approved changes to BadgerCare yesterday that will cut an estimated 22,800 people from the program. Even though this plan is less disruptive than the original plan that would have impacted 64,800 people, it’s still bad news for many Wisconsin working families. The Wisconsin Radio Network reports that “Some 44,000 BadgerCare enrollees will see premium increases, while more than 22,000 will be dropped from the state-run Medicaid program. “ According to the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families:

“Democrats offered a motion that would have nullified the entire waiver proposal approved by the JFC in November, which DHS estimated at that time would cause more than 64,000 people to lose their BadgerCare coverage. That motion would have paved the way for the committee to take up the BadgerCare Protection Act, which restores legislative accountability for Medicaid changes and fills the program deficit by eliminating a corporate tax break passed earlier this year. This motion was rejected on a party line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans against.”

People from around the state (Appleton, Green Bay and Milwaukee) came to lobby support from legislators for the BadgerCare Protection Act before the meeting and held up signs during the JFC meeting. People in the audience for the most part kept decorum during the meeting, but all bets were off once the meeting ended. The frustration in the room was palpable during the entire hearing and came to head during the vote. Quite a few people quietly stood and held signs while the vote was taking place. Unfortunately, the Democratic sponsored bill, SB 835 did not pass. This was too much for many observers who vented their frustration by shouting “shame” at the legislators as they left the room.

The Journal Sentinel made no mention of the Democrats bill in their article. They also didn’t mention the public outcry that happened after the vote. They chose to focus on how the latest proposal would save the state less money than the original proposal:

“The number of people expected to lose or drop their coverage was about one-third the number that would have lost it under the original proposal put forward by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, which would have affected 64,800 people. The number of children losing their coverage fell even more sharply to 2,900 from the original proposal of 29,100 children.
The proposal also would save less state money – $36.5 million through June 2013 instead of $90.2 million.”
Working families have against lost another battle against corporate special interests.”

While it’s great that the changes to BadgerCare Plus won’t hurt as many people as originally proposed, it’s still harming too many.”

The article makes the changes sound very reasonable. How is it “reasonable” to deny people affordable health care coverage? How is it “reasonable” to increase health insurance premiums on families that are struggling to make ends meet? How is it “reasonable” to force families to chose between paying for health insurance premiums and putting food on the table? How are there “cost savings” for people to seek medical care only in the case of emergency? Preventative care is significantly less expensive than emergency care. Uninsured people tend to seek medical treatment only when their condition is bad enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. These people frequently can’t pay for this treatment and the cost of their treatment is passed onto others. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound in cure. I would rather pay a small amount for prevention than a large amount in critical care. More importantly, affordable health care improves the quality of life for Wisconsin’s working families. Remember, the “working poor” aren’t just a statistic or some mystic “other” that aren’t part of society, they are our friends, family and neighbors.

A year ago in Wisconsin, I was awakened… by Wisco Wherls

This is a post by Wisco Wherls which was first published on Daily Kos.  I’m thrilled to have his permission to reprint it here.


How often does an individual have the opportunity to pinpoint the exact moment at which their life was irrevocably changed?  For myself, that moment came exactly one year ago today.  The emotions and memories are so vivid, I merely have to think of that day and I am immediately transported back inside the Madison Capitol.  I was appalled from the moment I learned that Scott Walker was prepared to activate the National Guard, in response to the protests that would surely ensue after he “dropped the bomb” known as the Budget Despair Bill on Wisconsin’s public sector unions.  “How could a state’s governor wield his state’s volunteer Guardsmen and women as his own personal palace guard against his constituents?,” I thought to myself.  (Little did I suspect that utilizing whatever police force was available at the time to quell dissent, would become a staple of life in Fitzwalkerstan.)  At the time, I knew very little about the bill, but it quickly became apparent to me that it was an across-the-board assault on Wisconsin’s progressive values and not only did Scotty know it, but more importantly…he didn’t give a shit.

Having been glued to my television for nearly three weeks prior, as the Arab Spring was unfolding in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, I was inspired by their bravery in the face of bloody government crackdowns and their steadfast determination through peaceful resistance.  So when large-scale protests began in earnest, in virtually my back yard, only days after Egyptians had overthrown their totalitarian government led by Hosni Mubarek, my interest level went off the charts. On that Monday and Tuesday, I eagerly rushed home from work, hopped online and tuned into CNN to follow the latest goings-on from that day’s protests.  With each passing hour, it seemed, the crowds were growing and the movement was picking up steam.  I found myself transfixed by the videos that were beginning to spring up on Youtube with footage of chants, drum circles and incredible passion from inside and outside of the Capitol.  By Tuesday evening on February 15th, I had made the determination that I was done playing the role of casual observer and was ready to head on down to Madison’s own Square to experience the protests first-hand.  I called my boss (and Dad) to ask if I could take the day off and make my way to the Capitol on Wednesday.  Fortunately, having been raised in a liberal family, I already knew his answer and went to bed giddy with anticipation for what the following day would bring.  Needless to say, I was pissed off beyond belief to awaken the next morning with a splitting sinus headache, barely able to lift my gangly frame out of bed.  The protests would have to wait.  I spent virtually the entire day laying around and following the latest developments on Wiseye, the Wisconsin state government’s version of C-Span, but as the day dragged on, I felt the pall hanging over my body beginning to lift.  This was the respite I needed and I determined I was going to the protests on the 17th.

From the instant I entered the Capitol around 1 p.m. with my friend, Shafia Powell, I knew my life would never be the same.  The tidal wave of adrenaline that immediately overtook my body was simply incredible.  It wasn’t so much that I could hear the energy of the crowd or see the intensity on their faces, but rather, that I could literally feel the electricity in the building coursing through me.  Just thinking about it now still sends shivers down my spine.  I was soon enveloped by the near deafening sounds cascading down from the upper reaches of the beautiful Capitol dome, off the marble floors and echoing throughout the packed hallways. Years earlier, I had sung with my high school choir inside of the rotunda, so I was familiar with the phenomenal acoustics inside…but I never could’ve imagined something as powerful as what we were hearing.  As we meandered our way towards the ground floor of the Rotunda, I was swept up in my very first chant of “RE-CALL WAL-KER!!…RE-CALL WAL-KER!!”  It felt odd, at first, to be yelling this repeatedly but having been an avid lifelong sports fan, I soon felt at ease going to work on destroying my already weakened vocal chords.

Despite my new comfort level, I simultaneously felt like a newborn, walking into a strange, and foreign world that so many inside of the Capitol had already grown accustomed to during the previous three and a half days, The sheer number of homemade signs, pictures and fliers adorning the walls was astonishing.  Virtually every spot on any wall, pillar or statue inside of the Cap was covered with a plea, a testimonial, a defiant call for Recall or an optimistic appeal to what little (if any) compassion Walker and Wisconsin’s Republican legislators had for the people of our great state.  As we finally waded through the crowd in order to reach the ground floor of the Rotunda.  I was literally taken aback by what I saw in front of me.  Everywhere I looked, every nook, cranny and balcony was full of Badger red…and every single person was chanting, clapping and dancing as if I’d just walked into a religious revival.  The musicians’ circle was an eclectic mix of drums, tambourines, vuvuzelas and saxophone-led horn section (perhaps even a little cowbell?), yet their sounds and rhythms melded together as if they’d been doing this their entire lives.  This was not what grade schoolers typically witnessed in their run-of-the-mill Capitol tour, to say the least.  But then again, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill legislation.

The sight of yellow banners hanging from the first and second floor balconies, indicating the support from various individuals and groups from all over the United States that had traveled to protest in Solidarity with Wisconsinites, was a heartening one.  Luckily, I was able to experience the unveiling of one shortly after I arrived.  Applause started gradually building from an unseen part of the Rotunda…as people realized another banner was coming out, everyone started cheering, louder and louder, until the banner had been totally unfurled, proudly stating that “DETROIT IS HERE WITH YOU.” The entire place roared with approval and it felt as if we might blow the dome off of the Capitol with the sound  from within.  This scene would repeat itself at various times throughout the day and the response each state and city received was as powerful as the one before it.  Not long after, one of our State Assembly Representatives came out to thank the crowd and express their support.  It was at that moment that I first learned (although many present had already heard) of the heroic journey our state’s 14 Democratic Senators had taken in the middle of the night to be with the flatlanders to the South, in order to prevent the necessary quorum and keep the bill from being rubber stamped over to Walker’s desk.  Wisconsin was in this for the long haul.

I had always been active as far as voting and following national politics.  But prior to a year ago today, I didn’t know Scott Fitzgerald from the Edmund Fitzgerald (and now Scott’s career appears to be sinking almost as quickly!)  For me, democracy had always been about voting and encouraging others to vote.  But outside of the gubernatorial races, I just didn’t give a shit about state politics or actually getting involved.  A year ago today, I truly learned what democracy looked like.  I would no longer merely talk about protecting the rights of myself and others, but rather, stand up for them.  I would no longer merely praise democracy, but rather, physically and socially ENGAGE in active democracy.  I would never again allow myself to settle into an apathetic mindset towards the activities of our elected officials. I had seen the reality of the far right-wing extremism that had been unleashed upon my beloved state by the likes of ALEC and the Koch Brother Barons, under the guise of Scott Walker and a “balanced budget.”  I had stood with those who were so deeply affected by it’s devastating consequences.  The camaraderie and positive vibes I had experienced that day were intoxicating…and I knew that I just had to keep going back and stay involved, for as long as it possibly took.

For me, the atmosphere was encapsulated by the title of what became one of the Solidarity Sing Along’s regular repertoire, “We Are a Gentle Angry People.”  No matter how livid the crowds were (and rightfully so,) they remained non-violent throughout and avoided the pratfalls of mob mentality that so often overcome large, essentially anonymous groups.  The amount of love, passion and creativity I saw poured into virtually every sign, chant and testimonial was incredible.  I was especially inspired by the power of the “People’s Mic,” a megaphone stationed in the center of the Rotunda, where otherwise ordinary individuals of all ages and backgrounds stepped up and bared their souls in front of thousands of strangers, with extraordinary courage they may not have ever known they had inside of them.

This movement and that day in particular, helped me realize that I, too, possessed the courage to make a difference, to let my voice be heard.  A year ago, I had never even heard of the Daily Kos, let alone ever imagined I would start posting on a national liberal blog.  I would not have comprehended spending my free time searching for conversations to stay abreast of the latest developments in Wisconsin’s political and socioeconomic struggle or sharing links and posting Facebook status updates to help others see the reality of what is being done to my state.  Whatever potential I had squandered or failed to utilize up until then no longer mattered to me.  I had discovered a new clarity of purpose and I didn’t know where it would take me, but I am happy where it’s gotten me, thus far.

As dusk settled over that evening’s rally on the steps of Our House, State Assemblyman, and fellow Sun Prairie native Gary Hebl, suggested that Walker and his legislative lap dogs had “awoken a sleeping dog.”  They had assumed the people of Wisconsin would simply roll over and take their attacks on democracy lying down….they were extremely misguided in that assumption.  Well, my eyes are wide open and neither I, nor the people of this state, will be going back to sleep anytime soon.  As I wrote on Facebook, “little did I think that I would walk into our state house on February 17th a curious and concerned supporter of workers’ rights and immediately be transformed into a determined activist.” The sensations I feel when I think back to the protests of last February and March are so strong and so visceral, that simply writing this was a constant battle with my emotions.  My story is not unique from the hundreds of thousands of other stories people have from our shared experiences in those early days, but I knew this anniversary of my entry into the Uprising meant too much personally NOT to write about it.  The entire movement has been about many different individuals coming together with a unity of purpose, overcoming fears and taking on seemingly insurmountable challenges we otherwise may not have had the willpower or intestinal fortitude to take on by ourselves.  Just knowing you have millions behind you…now THAT is true Solidarity.  On Tuesday, I was back inside Our House commemorating the one year anniversary of the I Love the UW Valentine’s Day protest march that kicked everything into high gear, when the powerful chant of “WE’RE STILL HERE!!” broke out in full force.  You’re goddamned right we are.  One year longer, one year stronger, Wisconsin…FORWARD!!!


This is a post by Wisco Wherls which was first published FRI FEB 17, 2012 on Daily Kos. 

Liveblogging: Wisconsin Rise Up

This will be a live blog spot
*on the issues of mining and wetlands in Wisconsin,

*on protests, a People’s State of the State and a People’s Tribunal at Wisconsin’s Capitol building,

*on Walker’s State of the State Address
all day Wednesday Jan. 25 through Thurs. January 26.

Please see the schedule top left of this blog for more details and links on each event.

IndianCountryTV on livestream will be broadcasting many events live today. Check them out:

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at

There’s a wee bit of extra activist energy going on at the Capitol Wed. Jan 25 and 26th. I’ll be tossing some tweeted comments out about that throughout the day and they will land here in a “Cover It Live” widget.

I encourage you to call this slap-dash approach “live blogging”! That sounds much more professional than “a few collected tweets and photos”.

Some twitter friends said they’d call our midweek protests “Wisconsin Rise Up” or #WIriseup on twitter. You also might see the hashtag #wismine, #nomine, or #Penokees more often this week as people discuss and protest the mining bill in Madison.

Take a look at the calendar top left of my blog for the full details and/or try this post:
Walker’s State of the State Speech to be countered by a People’s Tribunal and Mine Protest

One World, One Pain: In Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution

Update: Photos and a video from the event are here.

Occupy Madison has organized a demonstration to show Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution and especially with the women of the revolution, who have been systematically targeted: Corner of Johnson and State Streets in Madison Friday 12/30, 4:30PM-7:30PM

From Occupy Madison:One World, One Pain
Occupy Madison stands with the true revolutionaries of Tahrir Square and the rest of Egypt, those who have not opted for opportunism, and remain steadfast in their struggle against a military junta backed by our government that seeks to strangle the birth of democracy in its cradle.

The images of brutality at the hands of the SCAF, the police and their hired thugs have shocked, but not surprised, us. While the Obama administration seeks to keep those in power whom they “can work with”, we support the Egyptian people’s right to self determination, which they have been denied for so long as a consequence of imperial machinations.

Egyptians know all too well that the new boss is just the same as the old boss, and that erstwhile allies will abandon the fight when they deem it in their parochial interest.

Occupy Madison and others in this country see the situation for what it is, and demand our government end all support for this repressive regime.

The Egyptian revolution stood with Wisconsinites this past winter in the struggle for our rights, the rights of poor and working folks. The inspiration we took from that support still warms our souls during these cold days as we continue that struggle.

We in turn stand with you, our sisters and brothers, in your fight for self-determination and democracy. We are all in this together. We face a common foe, and have throughout history, in those whose greed and lust for power dominates our world.

Solidarity is shoreless.

Your bravery in the face of the deadly force deployed against you is a testament to the depth of the human spirit, and has inspired us and so many others across the globe. If we are to realize our dream of freedom and justice, we all must muster that courage, and stand united in our determination to forge a new world in which dignity is accorded every single person on this planet.

In the end, that is our only hope. And it is our duty, and our honor, to keep that hope alive.

السلام يكون معكم، رفاقنا (Peace be with you, our comrades)

This statement is the Official Occupy Madison response to the Urgent Appeal to Occupy and All Social Justice Movements: Mobilize to Defend the Egyptian Revolution.

Social & Book-Signing for ‘Cut From Plain Cloth’ Dec. 14, 4-8 pm

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.

Victoria Huss is the force behind this event. Her thoughts on the book can be found at the Fox Valley Scene newspaper.

“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

DOA vs. Wisconsin Citizens: Radically Restricted use of Wisconsin Capitol Building Unveiled

This DOA policy change is aimed at cracking down on freedoms in the Capitol building, especially protests, and specifically what I’ve been told is the world’s longest running labor protest, the Solidarity Sing Along. Here are the main points from a 22 page DOA policy for use of Capitol and state buildings of Wisconsin which I’ve heard goes into effect January 1st, 2012 Dec. 17 after a “an education period”.

Starting with most WTF policy point first:
*No civil legal recourse is available for death, injury, damage or theft of property that a Wisconsin citizen may experience in a state facility. The state and its departments, employees, agents, are “held harmless” for all suits, damages, claims, or other liabilities related to death,injury,damage, or theft of property. [Very nice for any law enforcement that might like to toss you on the floor or twist your arm, for example.]

*Helium balloons are not allowed in the Capitol. [On the bright side, this reduces the odds of a staffer trying to come at your balloon with a knife]

*Where a “public area” is can change at any time and the only areas deemed public are the ground and 1st floors of the Capitol. [Damn capricious.]

*All “events” must have a permit but for “spontaneous” events and spontaneous events must occur in response to a “triggering” event which occurred in the previous week or is occurring. Events that are advertised by social media and other means 7 or more days before the event are not “spontaneous”. [Republicans are providing so many triggers for protest, this isn’t a big deal…]

*Vandalism, theft, loss, breakage determined to be caused by the event participants will be charged to them. [A deterrent given the previous $7.5 million dollar estimate scrawled on notepaper]

*A rally is defined as 4 or more people. [We’re talking barbershop quartets and the Raging Grannies, protesters in matching shirts–just any group of people that looked remotely “together”. Here’s a workaround: look like lobbyists. They’re guaranteed entry any time.]

*Events held during working hours, 8-12 and 1-4, will be under 90 decibels. [for comparison, a vacuum cleaner reaches approx. 80 decibels. 90 decibels is roughly equivalent to a shouted conversation.] But the policy states “any sound should be as low as possible”.

*The charge for extra law enforcement will be charged to the protesters at $50/hour for Capitol police and at whatever other law enforcement charge for reimbursement and the charges incurred may be required up front before the permit is granted. [Wealthy protesters are alright. Poor-not OK. See previous note about lobbyists.]

*No signs affixed to any walls,statuary,trees,windows, etc.

*Permits are required on the state grounds if over 100 participants are expected.

From the S.S.Along facebook page–and I assume this is Chris Reeder writing: “I have been in touch with the ACLU, and am working to obtain legal counsel. I will most likely be sitting down with a DOA lawyer at some point and discussing this. I’ve also let my State Rep. (the fantastic Chris Taylor) and Sen. Larson’s office know about this….
My current opinion on getting a permit has not changed. We have been protesting at the Capitol every single weekday since March 11, well over 200 times now, without a permit. I firmly believe that what we are doing is protected speech, and occupying the rotunda (politely, joyfully, peacefully, and harmoniously) without a permit has been one of the central tenets of what the sing along has been about since March…

Suggestions on other actions to take:
Call or email your State Senator and State Rep. Make sure they know about this and encourage them to take action to protect our free speech.

Write a letter to the editor of any of the Wisconsin papers. Make sure they know about this attack on free speech by Walker and the DOA.”

The whole Glenn Grothman thing

I almost missed this nice interview of Al Schumacher, superintendent of Madison’s streets department.

Check out this part:

CT: How about the whole Glenn Grothman thing?
AS: Oh, Glenn Grothman doesn’t bother me. Glenn Grothman is Glenn Grothman. He’s out there. We’d like to plow Glenn Grothman’s car in on the Square. (Laughs.) No, we never retaliate like that.
CT: That’s a joke, right?
AS: That’s a joke! We do not do that. Although there was this one situation where people did complain about me in an editorial and my people came to me and said I know where that guy lives, Al, do you want me to take care of him? And I went, no, it’s not worth worrying about.
CT: You’re joking again, but I could swear sometimes your plow drivers come right after I’ve shoveled my car out and plow the snow right back around my car.

If you’re scratching your head on “the whole Glenn Grothman thing”, let’s revisit December of 2009. Glenn Grothman got a bee in his TeaPublican tricorner hat after the City of Madison did a rather poor snow removal job on 14 inches of wet snow that choked the city 12/08/09. The bee must’ve stung him repeatedly. He went so far as to actually introduce legislation to hand over Madison’s snow removal authority to Wisconsin’s state DOT.

In reply, mayoral assistant Mario Mendoza said “It’s ironic that someone who has made a career talking about local control wants to reach in and take that precisely away from us. …”

If Mr. Grothman had spoken with this resident of Madison he’d have been informed that the locals were already doing just fine going ballistic over the situation on their own — calling for Mayor Dave’s head on a platter and so on – – and we did not need ANYBODY from West Bend to wrest local control from the city and hand it to the state, let alone some proponent of keeping women pregnant and in the kitchen.

While we chuckle at Grothman’s dingbattiness, the scary thing is that he’s on the state’s most powerful committee- the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules – where he can happily help Walker provide the fairest election he can rig.

Here’s more on Grothman from the blue cheddar cheese cave:
Glenn Grothman: “The Left and the social welfare establishment want children born out of wedlock”

This is what SLOB-ocracy looks like: the Grothman Recall Rally

Glenn Grothman connects intimately with a protester.

And you can always visit Glenn’s own page. (I notice that he’s taken down all the snake flags he used to have up. Innnteresting.)

Celebrate Wisconsin values and join in the recall with public safety workers: Saturday Dec. 3rd in Madison

Rescue Collective Bargaining
Image from eaghra

I was one of the thousands effusively thanking firefighters and police officers for standing in solidarity with all workers in Madison’s protests. They were there despite the fact that Walker’s attack didn’t focus on them. Now you and I have a chance to thank public safety employees again for keeping the faith as we recall Walker and Kleefisch at a special gathering at Madison’s Labor Temple on Park Street, December 3rd, 2:00PM to 6:00PM

While I might be focused on thanks, the public safety employees organizing this recall event are focused on values. Specifically the Wisconsin values that are not reflected in Walker’s agenda. From the event’s press release:

“By coming together to sign the recall petitions, Wisconsin’s public safety professionals are rejecting the destructive agenda of the Walker administration. This agenda goes beyond the union-busting legislation which stripped large numbers of Wisconsin’s working men and women of their voice in the workplace. It includes devastating cuts to municipalities that directly harm police and fire services across the state, and cuts to Wisconsin’s educational, healthcare, and environmental protection systems which attack the very fabric of this state. In return, the Governor has transferred hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to special interest groups and campaign contributors… These are not the values or results which make Wisconsin great, and Wisconsin’s public safety workers will not stand by while our state is raided by special interests. Our signatures to the recall petitions are our way of saying “enough is enough.””

I hope we’ll also get a chance to hear about the battle fought and won in Ohio against Kasich’s nightmare union-busting bill, SB5 from Mark Sanders, President of the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters. The bill was defeated 61 percent to 39 percent November 8th in a referendum with the aid of 17,000 volunteers.

Along with Sanders, Madison’s public safety workers will also welcome Harold Schaitberger, International Association of Fire Fighters General President.

Harold Schaitberger has stood with us in Madison delivering fiery speeches during our mass protests. I expect to be moved by powerful words on Saturday, as well.

Here he addresses firefighters and emergency services workers from the U.S. and Canada at a convention, beginning his speech by describing the political hurdles facing public workers.
This speech is well worth your time.
” ..this is about an empowered right wing that is ruthless and unrelenting, not just in Washington DC but at the state level where we see the American Legislative Exchange Council –under the radar screen not many pay attention to it –but ALEC, a think tank funded by the Koch Brothers, Exxon Mobil, and over 300 corporations developed, prepared, and distributed anti-worker anti-union legislation handed off to over 2,000 conservative GOP members of state legislatures across the country by the end of last year. And those right wing idealogues then introduced 856 anti-labor, anti-worker bills in 26 states so far this year designed to wipe out collective bargaining where it exists, promote right to work …end project agreements and prevailing wage, eliminate union dues deduction simply to kill us….”

Backup link to video.

Here you can listen to Mark Sanders respond with composed anger to manipulation of an ad originally made to support Ohio firefighters. You’ll hear him describe how the testimonial of Marlene Quinn was twisted by a GOP group that took footage without permission and made it sound like she was in favor of Kasich’s union-busting measures.

Backup link to video.

And surely we will hear some excellent bagpipe music. Can’t wait. Please join me at this event.

Map to 1602 S. Park St., Madison WI

Full Press Release:
The Madison Professional Police Officers Association, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 311, and the Dane County Deputy Sheriffs Association today announce a public safety workers recall event on Saturday, December 3rd, 2011, from 2:00PM to 6:00PM at the Madison Labor Temple, 1602 S. Park Street called “Returning to Wisconsin Values.”

On that date, police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, dispatchers, and other public safety workers from across the area will gather together as one voice to sign the petitions to recall Governor Scott Walker and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefish.
We are very pleased to announce that on that date, we will be joined by International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger. General President Schaitberger has been leading the IAFF’s “fighting back” effort to protect workers rights throughout the country.

In addition, we will be joined by Mark Sanders, President of the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters. President Sanders and the OAPFF led the successful charge in repealing Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 and showed the rest of the country that the public does support their public employees.

By coming together to sign the recall petitions, Wisconsin’s public safety professionals are rejecting the destructive agenda of the Walker administration. This agenda goes beyond the union-busting legislation which stripped large numbers of Wisconsin’s working men and women of their voice in the workplace. It includes devastating cuts to municipalities that directly harm police and fire services across the state, and cuts to Wisconsin’s educational, healthcare, and environmental protection systems which attack the very fabric of this state. In return, the Governor has transferred hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to special interest groups and campaign contributors.

The results of the Governor’s policies are becoming clear: Last month, Wisconsin led the nation in job loss, shedding over 9,700 jobs primarily in the private sector, while our neighbor to the south, Illinois, led the nation in job creation, adding 30,000 new jobs. Additionally, Wisconsin leads the nation in educational cuts, diverting $635 per student. These are not the values or results which make Wisconsin great, and Wisconsin’s public safety workers will not stand by while our state is raided by special interests. Our signatures to the recall petitions are our way of saying “enough is enough.”

Black Friday Means Recall Friday in Madison, Wisconsin

Today while some Americans celebrated the 20th annual “Buy Nothing Day”, avid recall volunteers took advantage of the Black Friday shopping traffic. I checked out a few of these spots in Madison and a couple regular haunts but there was no drama to report –unless you count the occasional middle finger salute from a passing driver.

There wasn’t even a lot to explain to people who drove up to talk. They were simply there because they had seen the “recall” signs. They pulled over, did the task, and then were ready to move along with their day.

I first visited a couple of folks standing at the corner of Parkside and East Washington across from Arbys. T. was there 6 hours by the time I came mid-day. He’d collected 200 signatures. He said the pace of stops was slowing down by that time but that he would stay out until dark regardless. T. was one of the people who got a death threat by phone. He mentioned it but only to let me know why he’d already been interviewed by TV and he offered nothing more on the matter.

I heard that across the road in the park another 8 volunteers were taking signatures.

But I then went on to East Towne mall where I found a set of 4 people gathering signatures near Old Navy where they walked the sidewalk and motioned to people to safely turn off the road. They were told to stay away from store entrances.

One man had come out a little under-dressed: no hat, gloves, or coat. He said he really had to go – he was freezing. Before he left he told me about 1 of the most rewarding things he did earlier when he was going door to door as a canvasser. He helped an elderly woman sign who was housebound. She was especially grateful because she didn’t know she’d get to sign the recall petition.

The people that rolled up to volunteers in their cars weren’t as worried about signing. None of them wore coats. The heat was cranked up in their vehicles and we felt it coming at us in waves as we leaned closer.

Here’s a bit of video from today:

A few of their comments:

An African American UW student: ‘This is convenient. I wasn’t sure what date the recall was starting…I feel like Walker doesn’t care about the working class and I don’t like the way he’s doing his changes. There are people that are struggling. Why should the upper class not contribute more to the whole?”

A couple: I asked why they were signing and they knowingly said they are two educators from Wisconsin.

A man: “My dad was a state employee. I don’t like his lifestyle being portrayed as lavish. We only had 1 car when I grew up.”

We moved on to the Labor Temple on Park Street where two signing tables were set up. One of the most talkative signers was an older woman who was steady enough to drive but signed with a shaky hand. She talked with a tinge of guilt about not voting last Fall, saying “I just don’t vote for governor.” She said she drove by before and didn’t stop. A friend talked to her and told her she’d better stop the next time. She felt relieved to do it and said, “It’s about time.” She then talked to one of the volunteers about her pet dog back home, enjoying the company.

More comments from people who signed at the Labor Temple:

“I’m not a union member but I’m on faculty and everybody who works with me is in a union. We lost many good people. When they saw what was coming down the pipeline they split. I am upset with everything. EVERYTHING.”

Two women 23 and 25 came. One wore a tank top with shiny studs in it. They were so young looking the volunteer double-checked that they were over 18. One had already signed by the Jobs Center last Friday. She said she has 2 kids, one of whom is in school. She says she doesn’t like the cuts to education and the cuts to Badgercare. She said she has had badgercare but that is cut off for her and so is food stamps. “I’m getting help but it’s not what it used to be.”

We moved on to North Sherman not really knowing that anybody would be there but hoping. We found two women right next to Warner Park across from Pierce’s who staked out the area 1pm-4pm. They are with the North Side Action Team. One of the volunteers, Julie, said they started out doing their signature collection November 15th between the library and the grocery store and were wildly successful. But then one of the store managers told them to quit using the location. I asked Julie if she usually does shopping on Black Friday and she gave a belly laugh and a “No!” She answered that the loss of collective bargaining was a major factor for her to devote time to recalling Walker and then before I could ask her what this meant for her work as a nurse, another signature signer came along and she helped him out.

I talked to signers, then, as they left. Their comments as to why they signed:

A 20-something man: “I don’t like what he’s done to unions. I grew up in a union family. I’m in a union. My dad’s been laid off for 1 1/2 years.”

A baby-faced male college student: “I’m back home from school. This is hitting my school. I know lots of people affected. Anything to make the state better.”

A 50-something woman who said she was a delivery driver: Though “I am the typical bleeding heart liberal. I’m all the things in the stereotype” I’m not usually political. I started to get political again because, “I couldn’t believe he got voted in.”

She said her son is with the Republicans even though the changes hurt his job [works in a prison] and she said she just doesn’t understand him. I asked her how they keep peace at a Thanksgiving meal, and she replied “We agree to not agree”. She said she was in Milwaukee delivering things today and that all over the news there they are trying to discredit the recall. “Saying you are trying to get people to sign twice.” She was in good spirits to be able to sign, but said she had to run. Then pointed to my guy Mike said, “I stopped because I saw him waving!”

I turned around and the signature table was packed up. We were all walking away now. Geese flew in a V overhead honking as if to remind me that Fall is packing up too and the snow will soon fly. The day got dark. We went home.

But I hear tomorrow there’s a Badgers game in town. That’ll be a great place to circulate petitions. Remember to wave a lot. I hear that helps.

Want to learn more about the recall of Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch? See United Wisconsin.

Ed Schulz Interviews Brian Austin of Madison Professional Police Officers Assoc.

Brian Austin of Madison Professional Police Officers Association appeared on Ed Schulz’ show the other evening to explain why and how Madison Police interacted with thousands of protesters without once resorting to anything even close to the brutality protesters have experienced at occupy sites.

This embedded clip will start close to where Ed talks to Brian—sorry, the embedded player will make you watch a brief ad first. Click the link below that to see Ed’s segment on police brutality in full.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Full segment including footage of the UC Davis pepper spraying and an interview with a UC Davis protester.

Want to read more about Madison police interactions with protesters?: Try Worley Dervish’s post, Madison Police: Providing a Safe Place for Democracy.

Madison Police: Providing a Safe Place for Democracy

Recently we’ve seen a lot of iconic images of police brutality against peaceful protesters from all over the country.





From New York City to Tampa to Denver to Oakland and Davis, California, police are apparently under the illusion that violence is an appropriate response when the people exercise their constitutional right to free speech and peaceable assembly to petition for a redress of serious grievances.

But in Madison, Wisconsin, site of some of the biggest protests in the country earlier this year and just a few days ago, the police have by and large protected our right to peaceably assemble. This past Saturday, between 25,000 and 30,000 protesters demonstrated around the capitol square in Madison in support of the effort to recall Scott Walker, and according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the capitol police had “reported no arrests as of Saturday afternoon.” No arrests. No brutality. No pepper spray.

On February 19 of this year, soon after Walker et al. launched their heinous all-out attack on workers, schools, and health care in Wisconsin, the Madison police went so far as to commend Wisconsin protesters on their good behavior:

Law Enforcement Praises Protesters’ Conduct

On behalf of all the law enforcement agencies that helped keep the peace on the Capitol Square Saturday, a very sincere thank you to all of those who showed up to exercise their First Amendment rights. You conducted yourselves with great decorum and civility, and if the eyes of the nation were upon Wisconsin, then you have shown how democracy can flourish even amongst those who passionately disagree. … The goal of law enforcement has been to provide a safe environment for democracy to take place. That goal has been realized for yet another day.

“The goal of law enforcement has been to provide a safe environment for democracy to take place.” That was very cool at the time, but in light of recent events, it’s extraordinary. So let’s turn it around, shall we?

The people of Wisconsin praise law enforcement officers’ conduct.


I’m sure I’m not alone in my gratitude for the police who have supported our efforts and our right to peaceably assemble. Thank you for not pepper-spraying or clubbing us, for not telling us we can’t exercise our constitutional rights. Thank you for treating us with dignity and respect rather than with violence and brutality. Thank you for not hurting our friends and family—the elderly and the very young—who have gathered with us. You are truly a shining example in what otherwise is a dark night of shame. Just as the rest of the nation has been inspired by Wisconsin protesters, we hope that the nation’s law enforcement agencies will be similarly inspired by you.

Over 105,000 Signatures Gathered in 4 Days! + Photos from today’s Madison Recall Rally

Wow did it feel good to rally today.

I got together with some facebook and twitter pals over at Barriques on West Washington. It’s always a pleasure to hear that “Oh!” when online friends meet each other for the first time. That happened a LOT. I also had the great pleasure of hanging out with my blue cheddar blogging buddies, Appleton Wonk and Giles Goat Boy.

We made our way to the square. I knew the crowd of over 40,000 was hopping when a spontaneous call and response chant of “Union – POWER!” rippled through the crowd while Scot Ross was trying to MC.

We heard from AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt, Barb Weisenberger, UW Student Beth Huang, Ironworker Al Peltier, teacher and blogger Heather Dubois Bourenane, Milwaukeean Jennifer Jagloswksi, and Julie Wells – a forklift driver and the woman who filed recall papers on Scott Walker.

There is no way to honor each speaker properly in this blog post. So I’ll note the fieriest speaker: Heather Dubois Bourenane. By the time she got to “Wisconsin families will not abandon Wisconsin children. We are willing to invest in education. We want to invest in public education. And we will not betray our kids to gain a few bucks to waste in frivolous executive spending” the crowd was yelling “That’s right!” and “We will not!” It was Heather who gave us the breaking news that over 105,000 signatures were collected in 4 days. Approximately 540,000 signatures need to be collected and United Wisconsin is shooting for 750,000. 105,000 gathered is impressive with only 4 days under our belt.

We were serenaded by 10 singers from the Solidarity Sing Along – a group you can take for granted if you have easy access to the Capitol building. They were here again, as they are so often day in and day out since March 11th. Perfectly natural and poised and confidant as if they have been groomed to speak and sing to 40,000 people give or take instead of for a set of people they know who have become like family to each other after over 207 sings.

After some split off to march around the square and some crowded into the rotunda. When I heard the rotunda was packed I had to dash in there for a while. I was a little hyper as I am sometimes at these things so I couldn’t stay long before I went to march. My guy laughed when I said “I want to march and yell for a while” but that is literally what we do at these things and it is a healthy outlet when you read about Wisconsin politics as much as I do [too much].

At 1 point I walked along with a small group of college-aged people –complete strangers to me — that sang Solidarity Forever as I harmonized along. As we approached the Starbucks and rounded the King Street Corner we joined a larger crowd that was doing some competitive chanting against some Walker supporters – maybe 50 or so of the friends of Scooter. It was just verbal and everybody kept their physical distance. I suppose these episodes may seem childish when viewed from the comfort of a laptop in a living room. But whenever I’ve gotten into these mass shouting matches in the street I know there is a uniting release of energy. It’s a harmless and thrilling battle of noise.

My guy and I rode the bus and then walked home, me thinking of how fast I can get to the internet and him talking about places to collect signatures. We’re ready and we’re enrolled in this recall with bells on. As the Kissers song says, “Scottie we’re comin’ for you.”

Are you comin’ for Scottie? Get thyself to the United Wisconsin web site, readers. Volunteer. Donate. Read-up. RECALL.

[I have video, too. More to come…]

Find more photos at the blue cheddar facebook page.
First set

Second set

The REAL story behind the Madison Prep Academy Proposal? Helping “At Risk” Kids is a Cover for Union-Busting

Madison’s proposed Preparatory Academy is making some new changes to their plans for the all-girls and all-boys charter schools

Now it comes out that the prep school backers want to use non-union teachers & staff. In journalism school, this is called “burying the lede.” The real story here is union busting as an excuse for helping “at risk” kids.

The same thing happened in Milwaukee. About 10-15 years ago, the so-called “school choice” voucher proponents teamed up with Dr. Howard Fuller to do the same thing to Milwaukee Public Schools.

Voucher Schools were sold as superior to regular schools. After all of these years with the most extensive “choice” program in the country, independent studies have shown that the performance of voucher schools is about the same as Milwaukee’s “regular” public schools. Even Fuller himself admits that.

There are some good aspects to the prep school proposal, but they can be accomplished within the framework of negotiating with Madison Teachers.

It’s an old story–use a group of underserved minorities with genuine needs as class war pawns with the ultimate result leading to no real improvement and continued erosion of the middle class.

And no. I’m not a teachers’ union member. I’m one of the 99% who is tired of being manipulated by the agenda of the 1%.

Battleground Milwaukee. Walker’s War Against Public Education from blue cheddar blog

Madison School Board’s Ed Huges can’t wait for teachers’ contracts to expire at SLY’s blog

Chalkboard: Will Madison School Board go for non-union Madison Prep? from CapTimes