Wisconsin Recall: Vinehout’s the Real Deal

Endorsements for candidates in posts here do not represent the opinions of all regular contributers, blue cheddar, or the blog’s many guest writers.

I spent most of Wednesday afternoon reading up on Kathleen Vinehout, in part because she’s the Democratic gubernatorial challenger I find most compelling, in part because a blogger I very much respect has come out solidly in her favor, and in part because that evening I would have the opportunity to ask her any questions that arose in the course of my reading.

I find Vinehout compelling because I believe she’s the candidate who has demonstrated the most support for the Wisconsin movement and has most strongly stood up to the Fitzwalkers. And she has a lot of respect and enthusiasm for what she calls the renaissance of democracy that is transforming the political landscape of the state. She has broad appeal because of her strong connections with rural and small-town Wisconsin. No one can call her a Madison or a Milwaukee Democrat.

Vinehout’s credibility is enhanced by her having been one of the Fighting Fourteen who left the state last year to slow Walker’s railroading of the Wisconsin people. If the senators hadn’t responded so quickly, the Wisconsin movement might not have been able to gain the momentum that it did. Their leaving was pivotal in galvanizing the people to stand up and make themselves heard. The senators’ bold action bolstered us, because we knew we had strong advocates in the legislature.

Vinehout, Fighting Bob Fest 2009
Vinehout spoke at the Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo in 2009, and I remember that she was stirring and articulate and really got my progressive blood pumping. So I went to hear her speak at Wednesday night’s Drinking Liberally meeting at the Brink Lounge in Madison knowing I was going to hear a dynamic and persuasive speaker, and she did not disappoint. She exuded energy and optimism and was friendly and approachable.

She began with the story of how the fourteen senators were able to leave the state. Senate minority leader Mark Miller called the senate clerk at 11pm on Feb. 16 to verify the number of votes needed for a quorum on a budget bill. After confirming that twenty senators were needed, the clerk told Miller that on the following day a state trooper would be assigned to each one of the Democratic state senators, presumably to make sure they didn’t attempt to leave the building before the vote. Talk about heavy handed! Miller called Vinehout and the other senators first thing the next morning, thus enabling them to get away before Papa Fitzgerald’s state troopers had them hemmed in.

Vinehout affirmed her support for public education and public school teachers, her determination to see collective bargaining reinstated for public employees, and her belief in the critical importance of affordable health care for all. When asked why we should support her candidacy, she cited the breadth of her experience as a public health nurse, college professor, and organic dairy farmer as well as her six years as a state senator.

She emphasized that “we must be the change we want to see in the world,” that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” and that it’s up to us to fix this horrible mess we’re in. She said that if you don’t like politics as usual, vote for the unusual candidate. And if you don’t like money in politics, vote for the candidate with the least money.

Questions have been raised about Vinehout’s bona fides in relation to safeguarding women’s reproductive freedom, and my reading suggested that perhaps those questions will be the ones that will dog her most during this short, intense primary season.

One woman asked Vinehout Wednesday night why she is against abortion. Vinehout confirmed, though, that she believes abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” and that her legislative record confirms that belief. When asked later what she meant by “rare,” she said that providing good health care for all women, access to birth control, and good sex education would have the effect of making abortion rare. I asked about her amendment to a 2008 bill (that didn’t pass) that would have permitted a pharmacist, on the basis of conscience, to refuse to fill a prescription for contraceptives “if the pharmacist ensures that the patient will have access to the contraceptive elsewhere.” I asked why a pharmacist’s conscience should trump my ability to procure my contraceptives without costing extra money (for transportation), delay, and inconvenience.

She responded that the Wisconsin constitution has a stronger conscience clause than the U.S. Constitution has, and she wanted to ensure that the bill did not violate the state constitution, which as a senator she is sworn to uphold. She also said that a year later a bill was passed that requires pharmacies to dispense contraceptives without delay, while allowing an individual pharmacist to decline to dispense contraceptives for reasons of conscience provided that another pharmacist at that location can fill the prescription immediately.

Video – Senator Vinehout clarifies her position on access to contraception in Wisconsin:

A few minutes after she was done with the question-and-answer portion of her presentation, Vinehout came over to our table to talk to me and another woman. I asked her then, “but what about that amendment?” Even though it ultimately didn’t become law, the wording still concerned me. She conceded that the amendment was problematic and that in fact she had borrowed the language from Illinois legislation that had been supported by Planned Parenthood of Illinois. (I haven’t verified this.) She added that she was involved in writing the legislation that did pass the following year and that she prefers its language. So the 2008 amendment was probably not her finest legislative moment, but I was satisfied that it didn’t indicate a desire to restrict women’s reproductive freedom or a lack of support for women’s right to control their own reproductive choices.

So I was—and am—satisfied with Vinehout’s answers to my questions. I believe that as governor she will be a strong advocate for women’s reproductive health and freedom and, most important, will be responsive to the will of the people. I arrived Wednesday night leaning in Vinehout’s favor, and I left feeling real enthusiasm for her candidacy. She’s not riding in on a white horse to save us, which is a good thing. She’d be the first to assert that it’s we the people who will save our state. But I think she can help us do that, and I believe she’s the real deal.

Walker Protested at VFW in Appleton

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.

Show Me What Solidarity Looks Like

Political life in the United States has become so noxious and hostile that extreme partisan polarization, name-calling, smears, and schoolyard taunts have become commonplace. Thanks in large part to our collective addiction to the miraculous medium of television, our attention spans rarely amount to more than a minute and a half. We expect every issue to have two very clear-cut equal-and-opposite sides, and only two. “You are either with us, or you are against us.” In other words, quit with your pesky questions and jump on the god-damned bandwagon. People on one side seldom speak to anyone on the other side in anything more than sound bites. Stark divisions make much more entertaining TV than reasoned discourse. Because commonality doesn’t sell, we have allowed ourselves to forget that there are things we hold in common. Important things.

It is within this toxic political context that we come to a pivotal moment in the course of the Wisconsin uprising. We have marched and protested; we have mobilized the grass roots; we have collected and submitted more than enough signatures. So now what?

The last thing we need is for Wisconsin’s upcoming recall election to fall into the dreadful, deadening pattern of politics as usual. The barroom brawl that now serves as our political “discourse” has already been dramatically altered by our civil, peaceful uprising. We have already accomplished so much. But we aren’t anywhere near finished yet. In fact, we’re really only just getting started.

Many of us are disappointed that neither Russ Feingold nor Peter Barca are running for governor. Jessica Vanegeren wrote in the Cap Times last week of a “palpable lack of enthusiasm among many voters for any of [Walker’s] potential opponents.”

It’s time to carefully examine the merits of those opponents: former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, who has garnered several union endorsements; state senator Kathleen Vinehout, who was one of the courageous Wisconsin 14 who fled the state to give the people time to understand and react to Walker’s budget bill bomb; secretary of state Doug La Follette, the longest-serving Wisconsin state official; and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, who ran a close race against Walker in 2010.

Maybe none of them is quite the hero we were hoping for, but maybe that’s a good thing. No one person or politician is going to fix this for us. No one is riding in on a white horse. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

It’s time once again to muster our courage and blaze a new trail, to renew our commitment to better governance for the people of Wisconsin: equal access to good education and good health care; renewed commitment to collective bargaining and workers’ rights; and transparent, open government that is responsive to the Wisconsin electorate. These are the the issues that stir our passions.

Those of us who have participated in the Wisconsin uprising are not going to agree on who is the best candidate. Not until after May 8 (the date of the primary), that is. After May 8, all of us must solidly get behind the candidate we have collectively chosen to replace Walker. Over the course of the next five weeks, there will be much that we do not agree on. But we do need to agree on how we’re going to conduct ourselves. Our-way-or-the-highway isn’t going to cut it. If you’re for Falk and I’m for LaFollette, that doesn’t mean that either of us is betraying the movement that we’re so deeply invested in. That’s not to say that valid criticism of any of the Democratic candidates is off limits. Of course it’s not. But rather than win-at-any-cost personal attacks, those criticisms should be civil, respectful, and substantive.

We also need to remember that, contrary to what the mainstream media are reporting, the push to recall Walker et al. hasn’t just come from liberals and progressives. Many who consider themselves conservatives have been deeply offended by the Fitzwalker assault on the state; some not only signed the recall petition but helped to gather signatures. Just because the mainstream media has ignored them doesn’t mean that we should too. This is their movement as well as ours.

In a column in today’s Cap Times, Ed Garvey rightly issues a stirring call for solidarity: “The success or failure of the uprising turns on solidarity in the ranks. After June 5, Scott Walker will be finished as a national leader of the right-wing tea party or he will become a hero to the Koch brothers. The stories told to your grandchildren decades from now will end on a high note or you will be forced to explain how we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

But let’s be clear about what solidarity is and what it isn’t. Solidarity does not mean uniformity. What we need now is something virtually unheard of in today’s political climate: reasoned and respectful public discourse. We can—and must—raise questions and discuss our inevitable differences without attacking each other or questioning each other’s motives or commitment.

Let’s continue with the trailblazing and show the rest of the country what solidarity looks like. Let’s keep it classy and honest and renew our commitment to what binds us together: a deep and abiding love for the people of Wisconsin. We have come so far. We still have a long way to go. Let’s do this. And let’s do it right.

Barrett to Sykes on Walker union-busting: “No” to changes in rights, “Yes” to cuts in benefits

I honestly wasn’t paying close attention to Tom Barrett a year ago. By the recordings from the time, which you’ll soon hear, it sounds like he was trying very hard to distance himself from the Dem14 and look like a Wisconsin blue dog*. When you’re done with the post, let me know: Does this anger you? Or make him seem like *more* of a viable contender against Scott Walker?

I visited the Cognitive Dissidence blog and came across  this video and longer audio segment from a conversation candidate for Governor and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett had with conservative radio host Charlie Sykes when the 14 Democratic senators of Wisconin were still in Illinois over Walker’s “budget repair bill”, Wisconsin Act 10.

I don’t particularly like either recording BUT to be fair to Tom Barrett, you should listen to the longer recording. It lets you know that Barrett would not rubber stamp Walker’s bill.

If you listen to only the sampled YouTube recording, it’s not all there.

You’ll hear Barrett say that he would pass WI Act 10 – Walker’s so-called “Budget Repair Bill” – by *not* saying collective bargaining changes are fiscal. In so doing, he says, he would be able to get around needing a quorum of 20 state senators. Therefore the absence of the 14 Democratic senators would not keep the legislature at a standstill.

Barrett says, “You could vote on those tomorrow morning.”  

If you listen to the longer interview recording, you will hear Barrett say that he would not go all the way with what Walker wanted to do to unions. He says that he would alter health insurance and retirement benefits but he would vote “no on the changes in collective bargaining”.

Barrett: “The vast majority of the people in this state agree that public employees should pay more towards their healthcare and toward their pensions.”

Sykes: “Except they don’t”.

Barrett: “Except they don’t. But the bill will do that and and the bill will pass and the bill should pass.”

Sykes: “But the bill can’t bind local governments and the 100’s of local unions.”

Barrett: “But it can do a lot. Certainly with those who are in the Wisconsin Retirement System. Those are almost all public employees with the state with the exception of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County… ”

Barrett: “But again, if someone really wanted to end this stand-off the way you would end it is simply have a separate vote.”
Sykes: “Would you favor that?”
Barrett: “I would certainly favor that.”
Sykes: “Would you vote for that.”

Barrett: “I would vote for the changes in the healthcare and the pension. I would vote “no” on the changes in collective bargaining. But there’s the rub.”

Here’s the longer audio segmentsource: 620 WTMJ

Here’s the text that appears with the Sykes audio on the 620 web site: “Friday, Jan 20, 2012 During “Insight 2011″ back in March of last year, Mayor Tom Barrett discussed Governor Walker’s Act 10 which, at the time, had sent Democrat State Senators into hiding. This excerpt may be of particular interest to the new Kathleen Falk campaign.”

Image of a blue stuffed dog repeated 4 times. by mcbridejc creative commons license.*from the Blue Dog Coalition
“The Blue Dog Coalition was created in 1995 to represent the commonsense middle of the Democratic Party. Blue Dogs advocate for mainstream American values, a commitment to fiscal responsibility, and a strong national defense.

The name “Blue Dog” originates from the long-time tradition of referring to a strong Democratic Party supporter as being a “Yellow Dog Democrat,” who would, “vote for a yellow dog if it was listed on the ballot as a Democrat.” Leading up to the 1994 election the founding members of the Blue Dogs felt that they had been “choked blue” by the extremes of both political parties.

Currently, the Blue Dog Coalition is comprised of 25 conservative and moderate members who represent every corner of the country and continue to work to end the divisive and toxic nature of politics today. They work with members of both parties to find areas of compromise and to advance public policies that benefit the entire nation.

The Blue Dogs also have a number of policy task forces focused on the important issues facing our nation today, including: small business development, federal oversight and regulatory review, and energy independence.

Blue Dogs are not beholden to any political party leadership, but rather the constituents they represent.”

blue dog image is from mcbridejc

Driving the Snakes out of Wisconsin

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.

From Alex Hanna and Mike Amato: Why We Support Kathleen Falk for Governor, and Why Wisconsin’s Left Should Too

This is a cross-post from Defend Wisconsin and does not represent an endorsement by blue cheddar or the other writers for the blue cheddar blog. I have invited supporters of other gubernatorial candidates to submit similar posts to the blog.

Alex Hanna is Co-President of the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA), AFT #3220 and Mike Amato is Chair of the Political Education Committee of the TAA.

Disclaimer: This op-ed reflects only the opinions of its authors and not of any organization.

 

Why I Support Kathleen Falk for Governor, and Why Wisconsin’s Left Should Too

Ever since February 11, 2011, all eyes have been on Wisconsin as ground zero in the battle ground of the working class versus monied interests and their populist tea party manifestations. The culmination of this, along with the mass of popular support for public employees and galvanization of labor, has been the recall of Governor Scott Walker. The Wall Street Journal has called the recall the “most important non-presidential election of the decade”, and with over a million signatures gathered and the participation of thousands of Wisconsinites in the process, it’s easy to see. Now that the primary has been set for May 5, we need to rally around a candidate that will take on Walker and stand for our values.

That candidate is Kathleen Falk.

First and foremost, Falk has made a pledge to veto any budget that doesn’t include collective bargaining, and has been the only candidate, both declared and not declared, to do so. In pure procedural terms, this is the only way for Wisconsin public employees to regain those rights that Walker stripped away in the near future. No legislative act will restore collective bargaining as long as extremist Republicans hold control over the legislature. Even if Senate is flipped in the recalls, Republicans will hold control over the Assembly. And a “special session” of the legislature – the strategy espoused by other contenders – does not even necessarily bind legislators to attend, much less vote. Falk proudly repeats that she will not accept a budget that does not include collective bargaining, most openly writing an op-edinTheCapTimes.

Collective bargaining was the linchpin issue that brought …

 Continue reading at Defend Wisconsin

 

Disclaimer: This op-ed reflects only the opinions of its authors and not of any organization.

Dated March 20, 2012
This endorsement by Alex Hanna and Mike Amato appears here with their permission.

Recall dates set: Primary May 8. General June 5. Time to check in with state senate candidates

Full text of decision by Judge Niess [PDF format]

Are you feeling those vaguely familiar twinges of optimism that I’m feeling? Despite the crush of bad legislation being pushed through I’m hanging a happy hat on news of election dates and the dead voter suprression bill.

Not only was Wisconsin’s vote suppressing “voter ID bill” squashed recently because it is unconstitutional, we also have target dates for both the primary and the general election. The primary election date for all 6 recalls, assuming it’s needed, is set for May 8. The general election date for all 6 recalls is set for June 5.  Judge Niess signed off on the election dates which were also agreed to by lawyers for the G.A.B., the politicians targetted for recall, and the recall committees.

Earlier this week in his ruling, Wisconsin Circuit Judge Richard Niess also issued a permanent injunction against the GOP’s voter ID bill writing that “Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. .. Indeed they are two heads on the same monster.” He also wrote, “A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence — the people’s inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote — imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people.”  

I am not the tattoo type but I confess that I feel like emblazoning those words somewhere on my person. 

Wisconsin’s Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in a statement he would appeal Niess’ decision.  Alrighty. Regardless of what Van hollen’s secretary typed up for the press, I think it’s time to celebrate by getting down to brass tacks and recommiting to doing our bit to recall Scott Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Sen. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, Sen. Pam Galloway of Wausau, and Sen. Van Wanggaard of Racine.

I think many of us know who the gubernatorial candidates are by now. It’s time to also acquaint ourselves with the leaders stepping up to run for senate.

These candidates for state senate are ready to carry the baton that volunteers have handed to them in an unprecidented  civic marathon and they’re stepping up to the plate to reclaim our state senate from a set of right wing idealogues that have degraded democracy so deeply that it struggles to still pull in breath. Let’s give them our support.

Please give their facebook pages a “like”, leave them an encouraging note today, and contribute a sum to their developing campaigns. Let’s make this happen.

Running against Sen. Moulton is Eau Claire Democrat Kristen Dexter.  facebook page   Actblue donation page

Running aginst Sen. Fitzgerald is recall organizer Lori Compas   facebook page    web site

Running against Sen. Gallowway is Democratic State Representative Donna Seidel  facebook page   

Running against Sen. Van Wanggaard is former Assemblyman Democratic Party member John Lehman  facebook    web site

MADISON (AP) — A Wisconsin judge has signed off an agreement that would make May 8 or June 5 the dates for recall elections against Gov. Scott Walker and five other Republicans.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess gave the agreement an official OK Wednesday. The tentative deal was reached a day earlier by lawyers for the state elections board, recall committees and recall targets.

Under the deal, any required primaries would be held May 8 with a general election four weeks later, on June 5. Otherwise a primary election would have been May 1 and the general election May 29, near the Memorial Day holiday.

Four Republican state senators face recall elections. It appears nearly certain that Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, will also stand for recall.

Photos and Thoughts: Saturday’s Reclaim Wisconsin Rally

What are the odds that you’re going to just happen upon a cowbell vs. vuvuzuela competition? And what are the odds that at the same time you will just so happen to have a cowbell in hand?

Right. But that happened yesterday for me. Just one of the moments of absurd noisy joy that I experienced at the Reclaim Wisconsin March in Madison, Wisconsin. Going in I thought there was a much higher chance that either Peter Barca or Mahlon Mitchell would announce a run for office. Didn’t happen. But that’s why about – oh – maybe 300 people crowded around the Paisan’s building where the United Wisconsin office was doing its grand opening. This was one of the small rallies that would feed into the square and a mass of people numbering 35 to 65 thousand people depending on who you ask.

[nggallery id=26]

Of course that interfered with the speedy passage of cars in and out of the underground parking lot at the same site. But the situation was quickly resolved by John Nichols, of course, who was able to bellow with authoritative yet friendly volume for protesters to please let the vehicles pass through.

It was completely unlike that weekend rally 1 year ago right after the illegal passage of Wisconsin Act 10. Instead of shivering in a heavy snowfall wondering whether people would hold tight together to fight back, we got a light sunburn and could stand a little taller having turned in over 1 million signatures against Walker. Instead of only mourning the degradation of our state and hoping we had what it takes to take risks, on Saturday we could take heart in how courageous Wisconsinites have been and will remain.

We needed a rally in the sun. We deserved that balmy day.

After we heard from the Forward Marching Band, we heard Mahlon Mitchell, John Nichols and Peter Barca speak as people in the crowd occasionally broke in to respond to their statements with an emotional, “NO!”, or “YES!’, or “Right!”. A few times people began chanting “Run Barca Run!”:

After the speeches we embarked to the Capitol building and the cowbell I had for the first time became amplifiers for everybody’s chants with only small changes in the beat. I have to tell you it’s wonderful for a weak-voiced person like me to carry a Latin cowbell. It cuts through the low-level ruckus to deliver a clang beat on “What’s disgusting? UNION BUSTING!” “Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” “Hey hey, ho ho, Scott Walker has got to go!”

I fell in with a group from SEIU who were mostly people of color. [Mary Kay Henry, International President of SEIU, was at the rally. Maybe marching nearby.] I also fell in with flag bearers and firemen and iron workers and grandmothers. The streets were solid with people.

Men and women alike were guffawing when they saw this small sign at a square across from US Bank:

I stood there for a few minutes to enjoy watching people stop, have their moment of laughter, and capture the joke with their own camera. In that moment they were sharing a laugh together at powerful men they’ve been cursing at alone.

That is ultimately a crucial message for any rally: you are not alone. In Wisconsin it is absolutely true. Despite inevitable disagreements over the how’s and when’s, there is a diverse coalition in solidarity to reclaim Wisconsin from the Tea Party.

I rounded the square and fell in with a group of 3 men drumming near the MTI table and then drifted to the street in front of the Veterans Museum to talk with Senator Mark Miller. That was quite a moment for this blogger: circumnavigating the Capitol square and coming upon one of the Dem 14 who was talking to a reader of this blog who’s been coming here “from the beginning”.

I then drifted to the top of State Street to gaze up at the flags whipping in the wind and the protesters covering the steps of that building we’ve called “Our House” and to listen to inspiring speakers like the organizer-candidate Lori Compas when my guy said, “Is it time to stop reminiscing now?”

I joked, “Are you trying to tell me to quit your reminiscing and get to work?”

I refused to wipe the smile off my face and furrow my brow. But you know what the answer has to be very shortly? Right.

WARNING: Put Wisconsin First, a pro-Walker recall petition site and facebook page, does not tolerate facts

This is a post by Ronald Kossik

“Put Wisconsin First” are the folks responsible for an online database of Walker recall petition signers, searchable by zip code, by anyone with an Internet connection. This is not merely some guy with a web site; this is part of a collaboration of formidable organizations, capable of marshaling the resources necessary to manually type 800,000 names and addresses from the scanned petition sheets provided by the GAB (assuming they really did type in a total of 800,000 signatures, as claimed).

Substantial amounts of time and money were invested by Walker supporters to try to intimidate recall signers, and to use disinformation to discredit the petition itself.

Unfortunately, as is the case with many right-wing advocacy groups, they are determined to spread lies and confusion, and they aggressively renounce and suppress any facts that expose their deceit. For example, Put Wisconsin First claims that only 800,000 signatures were submitted, an unreasonably low number which is partly explained by their decision to only include signatures that are accompanied by a valid Wisconsin zip code. They also just assume that the name and other information must be legible in order for the signature to be valid.

Put Wisconsin First recently posted a sort-of-friendly message on their Facebook page, explaining what to do if a name is missing from their database:

  • Put Wisconsin First New house rule: If someone wants to complain they can’t find their signature please ask them to provide a link to the PDF page, at the GAB web site, and the text of the names and addresses and we will include them in the ZIP CODE search tool.

“That sounds reasonable,” I thought, so I posted this polite and factual comment:

  • Ronald Kossik The zip code is not required, so when I was circulating, I often told people to skip it to save time. The signatures are still valid. Is there a way to find signatures without zip codes? If not, that’s a LOT of valid signatures to exclude.

That seemed pretty mild to me, but “Bill”, who seems to be a Put Wisconsin First moderator, starts getting upset:

  • Bill Schmalfeldt I think Zip codes are required. Please provide a link to the recall law saying they are not.
  • Bill Schmalfeldt Also again, this is a tool to help find petitions. If it doesn’t work for you don’t use it.
  • Bill Schmalfeldt If you want to search by something else, make your own tool I guess.
  • Bill Schmalfeldt Let me ask, why have it on the face in the area of required fields if it isn’t required?

It’s not my responsibility to educate Bill, but in the interest of fighting misinformation, I pulled up the recall statutes (something Bill should have done before he started spreading his false assumptions), and posted the information that Bill demanded:

  • Ronald Kossik
    9.10(2)(e)
    (e) An individual signature on a petition sheet may not be counted if

    9.10(2)(e)4.
    4. The residency of the signer of the petition sheet cannot be determined by the address given

    9.10(2)(g)
    (g) The burden of proof for any challenge rests with the individual bringing the challenge.

Posting the facts proving Bill wrong was too much, and so a moderator deleted the state statutes I posted, I guess because they don’t like them, so they’re going to pretend they don’t exist! And they even deleted Bill’s posts, probably because they show that the people running the site don’t know anything about recall law! Now Bill isn’t even pretending to be helpful any longer:

  • Bill Schmalfeldt “Is there a way to find signatures without zip codes?” – Yes, go to the GAB web site and start looking. You could ask me, I have a searchable one, as you can see from the comment just above this one.

Even so, I post another polite and factual response:

  • Ronald Kossik Bill, Of course you have the right publish any subset of legally submitted signatures that you choose. The point is, if you don’t include signatures because of missing or incorrect zip codes, your database excludes thousands of valid signatures.

That was too factual, too much truth for them to handle! In response, all of my comments were removed, and comments in responding to my comments were removed. (If you look at my last page capture, there are still posts referring to my comments, even though they don’t make much sense by themselves.)

While all this is going on, in another post, Bill uses incorrect information to aggressively berate someone else with concerns about their database:

  • Bill Schmalfeldt And another thing, if you think the data is bad, LOOK AT THE PETITIONS! Spelling errors, people don’t know their own zip code, people can’t even spell their own name in some. The fault of bad data isn’t entirely the database, the source is crap. Tell people signing recall petitions to sign legibly, AS REQUIRED BY LAW.

In spite of Bill’s hostile response, I posted another polite correction:

  • Ronald Kossik Bill, you are wrong; the law does not require an elector to sign or print their name legibly. (Even though you said it in all caps, it doesn’t make it true!) Only a signature is required, and a signature can be ANY MARK, including an “X”. The signature is still valid.

My comment was deleted along with all my other comments, but they left up Bill’s incorrect post to continue to spread bad information to the public! Signatures do NOT have to be legible; that’s a lie, and they know it, but they don’t care.

In response to the polite, factual comments I have quoted above, Put Wisconsin First has removed those comments and blocked me from making additional corrections to their disinformation. The last thing Put Wisconsin First wants is someone posting things like Wisconsin state statutes that explain the truth about the recall process. Put Wisconsin First will continue to spread their lies without tolerating any opportunity for the truth to interfere with the propaganda against the recall.

Below are a series of screen shots taken from Put Wisconsin First‘s Facebook page:
PutWisconsinFirst-02
PutWisconsinFirst-03
PutWisconsinFirst-04

Wisconsin recalls equal uncertainty? “Democracy. A Drag On Business Since 508 B.C.”

That’s Charles P. Pierce responding to that line of Walker’s – his excuse to explain away job losses:
“Other states don’t have recalls”

The job loss news in Scott Walker, Job-Killer may be old hat to you by now.

But this article is a new and lovely symphony to my ears.

Try Pierce’s skewering summation of Scott Walker:

“the goggle-eyed homunculus now employed as the assistant director of employee relations at the subsidiary of Koch Industries once known as the state of Wisconsin”

Enjoy the whole article HERE

Image by Dave Hoefler, flickr Creative commons license


Photos, video: Lori Compas announces campaign for the 13th Wisconsin state senate seat

“This movement isn’t about me,” Compas said. “It’s about all of us. It’s about our belief that people should matter more than money. It’s about our expectation that government should be open and honest. It’s about the simple belief that our legislators should work hard on our behalf and represent us honorably.”

“While we’ll never raise as much money as Scott Fitzgerald has,” Compas acknowledged, “this campaign has strength money can’t buy. My strength to serve in the Senate comes from a willingness to listen and respond to constituent concerns. It comes from my ability to cooperate and find common ground. My strength comes from the inspirational courage of a thousand volunteers.”

Visit LoriCompas.org to see the speech in full and find out how you can help Lori Compas become a Wisconsin state senator.

Share photos of Lori Compas’ announcement on facebook!

Rumor has it Lori Compas is announcing candidacy in the Scott Fitzgerald recall race

Inside sources inform me that on 2/28 a key leader in the move to recall Scott Fitzgerald will announce her candidacy for his seat in the state senate: Lori Compas.

On January 17th this year, Lori Compas and the Recall Fitz team handed in 123% of the signatures required to force a recall election against Fitzgerald. At that time Lori said “More than 20,600 of his own constituents—Republican, Democrat, and independent alike—signed a recall petition because Scott Fitzgerald stopped listening to them…Individually they were not heard; together, their call for open, honest government cannot be ignored.”

Lori Compas stood up to the arrogance and political negligence of Scott Fizgerald when she decided to file a recall against the man. Remarkably she did so without any support from a political party. The courage and drive she displayed alone have inspired Wisconsin and the nation. The fact that she has taken the high road in all of her references to Scott Fitzerald during interviews is another remarkable display of character and proves Lori Compas isn’t in this battle to simply sling mud.

The impossible has become possible: Scott Fitzgerald is in danger of losing the seat he has held since 1994 and the title “Senate Majority Leader”. That is assuming a recall election is called.

Scott Fitzgerald’s lawyers have submitted a challenge to 6,821 of the signatures submitted to recall him on the argument that the summer recall election should occur under new redistricting maps that don’t take effect until November. Oddly enough it was Scott Fitzgerald himself that added his affirmative vote on legislation that put those maps into effect beginning November of 2012.

The Recall Fitz team is disputing the Fitzgerald team’s legal logic. I believe the Recall Fitz team will prevail. Though I am neither a lawyer nor a scientist, I believe that implementing November maps in the summer requires violation of either the law or the space-time continuum.

In addition, according to the attorney for the Recall Fitz team, there are another 3,705 signatures challenged by Scott Fitzgerald – a number insufficient to do the job as that number falls 276 signatures short of the number Fitzgerald would need to invalidate the recall effort against him. –source

Assuming the election goes full speed ahead, Lori Compas will be competing to represent Senate District 13 which is between Milwaukee and Madison and includes the villages of Fort Atkinson, Lake Mills, Watertown, much of Oconomowoc, Deerfield and Beaver Dam.

For more background on the district and Scott Fitzgerald try this blue cheddar post,
Wisconsin State Senator Scott Fitzgerald expected to face a recall effort

To learn more about the Recall Fitz effort and lend your support, please visit RecallFitz.com.

Can you guess that location? Recall petitions in white brick building 2 miles from Capitol

This is probably the least significant news story of the week if not the year, but there’s just something fascinating about a secret building.

Supposedly the top secret location where recall petitions are being processed has been revealed but all I’ve learned is that it is an old white brick building about 2 miles from the Capitol building. The photo below comes from the L.A. Times. Can you tell me where this is?

Leave a comment here with your answer, tweet me, or let me know on facebook.

“Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, the agency checking and rechecking the recall petitions that have rocked the state’s political world, outed itself Monday.

In media tours, the agency disclosed that it was tabulating the petitions in an aging, white brick building about two miles from the state Capitol. The agency has broadcast the tedious office activities via webcam, but Monday’s tours were the first time the precise location has been identified, said board spokesman Reid Magney in a telephone interview.”

Read more at LA Times

Footnote: It would be much cooler if the petitions were in a hollowed out volcano.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republican Sen. Schultz wants to end politically motivated recall elections in Wisconsin

Wisconsin News: The Republican state lawmaker whose moderate politics placed him at the center of a fractious debate over the Wisconsin budget last year said Saturday in Mauston he plans to introduce legislation that will end politically motivated recall elections.

Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, told members of the Juneau County Republican Party at the party’s caucus that when recall efforts against Gov. Scott Walker and state legislators are finished, he will seek to “end the insanity” by amending the state’s constitution.
“I think recalls should be about malfeasance, about whether legislators are doing their jobs responsibly or not,” Schultz said.

Schultz bucked party leaders last year when he attempted to negotiate a compromise that would have restored bargaining rights in 2013 to public employees who stood to lose them in Walker’s budget.

The compromise failed and Walker’s budget eventually became law with the votes of legislators in both the Assembly and the Senate, including Schultz’s.Schultz said he believes in a robust debate within the halls of the State Capitol.
“I learned a long time ago that if I go into any room and everybody is thinking the same thing, there isn’t much thinking going on,” Schultz said….

Read the remainder at wiscnews.com