Nobody Buys DOA Disinformation at Wisconsin Capitol

About 30-50 people gathered in the Capitol building’s basement this morning to question Chief Tubbs and a Department of Administration rep. on a new policy that will — among other things — force protesters at Wisconsin’s Capitol building to pay for additional law enforcement and treat groups of 4 or more people as “rallies”. DOA’s Deputy Secretary Chris Schoenherr asserted repeatedly he is not an attorney and could not answer legal questions about policy. Answers from Tubbs and Schoenherr were usually variations on the following:
1- “I’m not going to respond to a hypothetical situation.”
2- “The policy is based on Chapter 2 in the administrative code. Our legal team believes it is defendable.”

Brian S. asked about the “hypothetical” on everybody’s mind:
“”Let’s say that whenever the implementation date is, that there are 150 singers in the rotunda, are you prepared to make 150 arrests if those people do not voluntarily comply?”
Tubbs: I’m not going to respond to a hypothetical
Brian S.: It is not a hypothetical.
Tubbs: We will evaluate that situation. I am not going to give up the ability we have as a law enforcement agency to professionally deal with a situation that could be questionable.” The Solidarity Sing Along group has been singing at noon every weekday at the Capitol since March 11. Song leader Chris Reeder has made it clear the group is not going to get a permit to “exercise our free speech rights”.

One of the “hypotheticals” posed by Katy R. was: “If I want to bring 3 members of my family to see the holiday tree – if we have the same sentiment that we want to express at the same time – is that going to turn this into a rally?”

Schoenherr replied, “It is a practical matter. That’s something we’ll have to work out on an individual basis… If you want to just have your family here and say ‘God bless America’ that would be OK.

I think Schoenherr has no clue how disturbing that comment sounded.

Greg P. used Schoenherr’s comment to frame the perilous state that DOA’s policy puts free speech in:
“.. it would be so easy for these procedures to be selectively enforced. You said before if people want to come to the Christmas tree lighting and say “God bless America” that would be OK. But that’s a problem. What if people want to come to the Christmas tree lighting and say “God damn America”. – – those are equivalent things and if you enforce this on people that say “God damn America” and not “God bless America”, that is a serious problem”.

Assembly Representative Chris Taylor said that the DOA’s restricted Capitol policy is at the top of her constituents’ minds. She said, “ really seems to be we are imposing a fee on people’s exercise of their constitutional rights if we’re going to say you have to pay to participate in a large gathering. Then we’re saying in order to express yourself politically, you’re going to have to pay to do that and I don’t know how you all are going to get around some really settled constitutional provisions.”

The response to Rep. Taylor: Answer #2.

Ed K. expressed outright anger for charging for protest: “This is a user fee. We get a policy that’s raising taxes on specific people making use of this building. That’s objectionable. It’s against all of the history of this state…” He added that the public should see what account the money would go to and what would be done with it.”

Ed K. requested both a copy of the previous policy on protests and a base line of regular staffing – such as what might be learned by studying a year’s worth of Capitol officer time sheets. His 2nd request was rebuffed by Tubbs who said that he could not give that information out for security reasons.

Tim R. asked a key question on timing:
“I don’t believe that the question of ‘Why now?’ has been answered adequately at all. You would forgive us all for concluding that this governor will not countenance any dissent. He will not countenance free speech. I recall him saying some months ago ‘Oh the solidarity singers. Those are 20 teachers. Who cares.’ Well it is more than 20 teachers. There’s a lot of people there. It seems to me it is rubbing him the wrong way and THAT is why we are getting this policy and I would like an answer to that.”

DOA disinformation capitol education

The official answer to this “Why now?” question was given already, but it was just so weak, nobody accepted it. Schoenherr said DOA changed the policy now because (1) DOA didn’t believe it had 1 document to answer the public’s questions on permits and (2) There is a precedent set with the status of a lawsuit filed by Ben Masel.

Leslie A. brought files on 3 lawsuits to the meeting. They originated with the late Ben Masel and established that Wisconsinites do not need a permit for assembly in the Capitol or on the Capitol grounds and do not need a permit for an amplification device. She said ” … Are you suggesting that you’re going to require people to get a permit when it’s not required? When it’s settled law? … Is DOA suggesting that they are going to violate settled law in order to conduct an illegal permit process and they will require us to sue the DOA yet again which is at taxpayer expense for the DOA to defend it?”

In reply Chief Tubbs asserted that the largest protests this year were under permits. Tubbs said, “..let me be clear: the permits are not new.”

I made a quick call to Jeff Scott Olsen, an expert in constitutional law who served for decades as attorney for the late constitutional activist Ben Masel. He said Leslie was referencing a lawsuit which challenges the constitutionality of DOA-issued permits to assemble at the Capitol. The filing was amended to substitute the organization NORML for Ben in September. He said that around that time Wisconsin’s Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar told him DOA was going to replace existing regulations in October or November of this year. Olsen said he will work on fighting the DOA case ASAP now that new procedures are out, but he can not pinpoint when his 1st legal action will take place.

After listening to about 1 hour of non-answer answers on DOA’s policy this morning, I thought I may as well give it a shot. I asked, “Do you think that these procedural changes are in line with the principles of democracy?” I got answer # 2 from Schoenherr.

From behind me Jenna Pope shot back at Schoenherr, “You realize that by saying this over and over again it doesn’t make it true.”

The new DOA policy is set to go into effect on Saturday December 17. According to WNPJ, the sponsor of the singing group, Monday, December 19th will be the first day the Solidarity Sing-Along will be subject to the new policy. You can keep up to date with the Solidarity Sing Along group through their facebook page.

More images from the disinformation session are at the blue cheddar facebook page.

Link to highlights of the 22 page policy and a PDF copy.

The ACLU write-up: DOA Information Session on Protest Permit/Liability Scheme Leaves Citizens with More Questions

Brian Standing’s WORT FM report on this event is in this audio news report.

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

Dear Rock Thrower: Business at The Victory is booming.

The rock tosser of Atwood Street may have alarmed people by shooting a rock into The Victory coffee shop. But that’s where the negatives both begin and end. When I came by today the place was packed with people, recall petition circulators were constantly busy, and the food case was bare – – we purchased all of Patrick’s provisions. The tip jar overfloweth and a neighbor even stopped in with flowers.

I spoke with a recall signer who said her husband had worked a petition table at Edgewood. According to her yesterday a man came up to their table and tore through a stack of signatures destroying 450 of them  1 page of signatures. A total of 450 were collected in all that day [that correction is made per a comment submitted on this blog—a forthcoming police report may reveal more details].  The volunteers will alert the signers who will redo them.

That petition destroyer committed a Class I felony. I’m not sure what the rock launcher committed, but the cops are on it. They took the original text that was literally taped to the rock but Patrick recorded the text for posterity. You’ll see it in the last photo below.

As long as I have you here, I will run The Victory’s street address and web site by you. As the now classic Wisconsin protest sign says, “Screw Us and We Multiply”. I think that logic works for coffee houses too.

2710 Atwood Ave
Madison, Wi 53704
608 240 0366
Sun: 7:30 am – 7:30 pm
Mon – Thur: 6:30 am – 7:30 pm
Fri: 6:30 am – 9:00 pm
Sat: 7:30 am – 9:00 pm

Link to initial story on the rock tossing. 

Republican Rock Toss? Madison’s The Victory Got Vandalized

Exhibit A

Just the other day my boyfriend said he got a big coffee at this guy’s shop and reached for his cash but came up short. He was fully prepared to deal with the short – – either get out to the car and get more cash or pull out the debit card – – and shop owner Patrick Downey said, “Don’t worry about it. I got it covered.” When Mike said no,no he’d pay in full then Patrick replied, “No no, I got it.” The exchange repeated and finally Patrick said, “Do I need to use sign language? I got it! No problem!”.

Patrick is that kind of guy.

Please offer Patrick your generous patronage and stop by his coffee shop at 2710 Atwood Avenue.

By the way, he also brews a very fine cuppa coffee.

from WKOW
Someone threw a rock through the front window of The Victory on Atwood Avenue at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

The business has signs opposing Governor Scott Walker. In the past, it also had signs supporting state supreme court candidate Joanne Kloppenburg.

Paul Houseman was in the shop at the time and was nearly hit by the rock. He said he was shocked by what happened.

“No matter what your political affiliation, it seems to me that when you start using violence, we’re lost as a society. I don’t care what side you stand on,” said Houseman.

The rock had a note wrapped around it that made sarcastic comments about voting for Kloppenburg.

WKOW has some video and more pics.

Web site of coffee house, The Victory

The ‘New York Times’ Goes Slumming – Manhattan Takes on Madison Activists by Joe Vittie

“Wow, someone is finally paying attention to what’s going on,” a friend said.

Our laptops, bags, and coats were spread across the marble floor of the Capitol as we conferred about the evening’s plan. The laughter about the latest ironical protest sign was interrupted by a hushed interjection.

“The New York Times is here.”

It might be difficult for a Manhattan resident to believe, but the locals didn’t dissolve into hysteria: we did not commence a mad dance as we broke into a rousing version of “The Too Fat Polka (She’s too Fat for Me)”.

Nor could The Most Esteemed Mid-West Bureau Chief claim that beer and deep-fried cheese curds were drooled onto her Most Serious Reporter’s Notebook – not even when she interviewed an activist who is reported to suffer from a lack of fine motor skills (when walking with fermented malt beverages near GOP politicians).

For even in provincial Madison, we chedderheads understood that this was the “National Newspaper of Record.” Not only were we finally getting media coverage on the massive constitutional abuses in Wisconsin, we were receiving attention, as if a sacrament, from the Holiest of the Holies, the Priest above all other Priests, from the Revered Church of the Most High Press.

“They were at the Sing Along,” another activist said. “They talked to Chris,” referring to the noon-time Solidarity Sing Along’s music director. Even though no one said it, you could almost hear an “Oooh” of pride from our group.

The Big Time. The Gray Lady had figured out what even the local press could not. It took the national press to get it right, to interview the “right” people and report on the “right” events.

Certainly the august “New York Times” would frame our First Amendment struggle, for the right to carry signs and cameras into the Assembly gallery, against the backdrop of the GOP power grab.

And they would witness that a person could carry a loaded pistol into the Assembly gallery, but if that person was to carry a picture of the same pistol, that they would be removed, handcuffed, arrested, and cited – for some obscure administrative code.

A Doll’s House – The Last Remnants

On November 11, ten days after our action, the article, “Allies Have Doubts About Protesters in Wisconsin”, appeared. Condescension is nothing new to the Wisconsin citizens who struggle to rid their state of the bankrupt “philosophy” of the Ayn Rand Republicans. Joking attempts have been made, by the protestors themselves, to combine all the epithets that have been hurled at them, since the February Capitol occupation, into one coherent diatribe:

Lazy, smelly, unemployed, violent, homeless, hippie, student, communist, fascist, anarchist, out-of-state, paid-agitator, slob, libtard, union thugs.

The “New York Times” reporter, in her report from the Wisconsin Capitol, continued the disparaging theme against this patriotic group, although she accomplished it with a succinct Ivy-league educated alliteration.

The “hardy handful” was her prose summation for the 50 to 150 people she reported on. And she continued her story on these supposed five lone souls, by describing them, with a redundant adjective as, “the last remnants”.

Perhaps the reporter could have been clearer in her representation: the scraps, the unwanted, or the human debris, would have more clearly illustrated her point of view about the protestors, and their political ideology.

“The New York Times” does have a point of view. They did not descend from the Kingdom of Pulitzer, into the Capitol Rotunda, in order to objectively report on the democratic process in Wisconsin. This publishing conglomerate, established 160 years ago, does not merely exist in the culture; they have played, and continue to play, a major role in creating and maintaining a world in which corporate interests outweigh those of the “hardy handful – the last remnants”.

The “Times”, akin to the patriarchal society represented by Torvald Helmer, the banker husband, in Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”, believes that it is divinely positioned to decide how those born “beneath” it should act in “society”.

But the protestors, like the transformed Nora Helmer, the aggrieved wife, in theater’s first modern masterpiece, refuse to be treated like a doll to be played with, either by the party seemingly most aligned with their interests, the DPW, or the party in power, the GOP.

Just as many of Ibsen’s late 19th century audiences could not understand how a woman could attempt to think, and make life altering decisions, independent of her husband, “The New York Times”, of 2011, cannot fathom that a handful of independently minded citizens would dare assert their rights in a democracy.

But democracy, and the freedom to choose a political life filled with exaltation and joy, as opposed to despair and terror, will continue to be put into practice by the “hardy handful” – each and every day – with or without the approval of our nation’s most esteemed journalists, and their corporate parents.

One of the "last remnants" with his sign.

I am very pleased to have Joe’s permission to publish his piece here. It’s perfect. My one regret is that I must also run a link from my blog to that vile New York Times story.

This is the New York Times article Joe references: Allies Have Doubts About Protesters in Wisconsin

Note: If the New York Times link doesn’t work, try this backup.

Samantha Masterton: “I was arrested for taking pictures”

This is written by Samantha Masterton and has appeared in the Wausau Daily Herald:

On Nov. 1, the first day it was legal to carry concealed guns in Wisconsin, I was arrested.

I had traveled to Madison to participate in Concealed Camera Day, an organized protest against concealed carry and the unconstitutionality of Assembly gallery rules. I carried my camera into the Assembly gallery, quietly snapped pictures, and was promptly arrested.

Two of the many rules of the Assembly gallery are the prohibition of photography and signs. Although these rules have been in place for some years, it is only recently that they are being challenged. I have been watching with increasing horror as illegal arrests have been perpetrated against peaceful citizens who were photographing or holding signs in the gallery.

People have been arrested for displaying copies of the U.S. Constitution. Pictures of apple pie, Ronald Reagan and Mother Teresa have been grounds for arrest. One man was arrested for wearing a cross made of paper and tied around his neck with a piece of yarn. The cross was considered a sign because it had words on it: “For God so loved the world.” These arrests enrage me.

Gov. Scott Walker has called special sessions of the Legislature in which public debate is essentially eliminated. The doors of the Capitol are routinely illegally locked during Assembly and Senate sessions, severely limiting citizen access. Walker’s administration has held public meetings in spaces too small to comfortably accommodate all who wish to speak.

Government transparency, public discourse and debate should be nonpartisan issues. These issues and the trampling of our First Amendment rights have put me in such an agitated state that I took a day off from work to make the trek to Madison and risk arrest.

The Assembly session on Nov. 1 began around 6:30 p.m. Upon entering the single gallery that was open (another barrier to citizen involvement), I was handed a small slip of paper listing the gallery rules. On the lighted information board across the room, I clearly saw the admonishment, “Please follow all posted rules.” I took a picture of the sign.

One of the pages quickly told me to put my camera away, and I refused, stating that it was my right to take pictures.

It was only a matter of minutes later, when I was quietly photographing the arrest of another protester, that I was approached by two police officers and was asked to leave the gallery with them. I did not resist.

The officers escorted me down the hall and handcuffed me. I was told I was under arrest for breaking the Assembly rules. I repeatedly asked what law I had broken. The charge ended up being for “other conduct prohibited – obstruction” with an attached fine of $205.50.

I was taken, flanked by the officers, to a basement cafeteria and a makeshift processing center where I sat, still handcuffed, while I was written a citation. Other arrestees filtered in, each flanked by two officers, who ranged in demeanor from embarrassed to angry.

It was all over in a matter of 15 minutes. The handcuffs were taken off, I was handed my citation, and I was told that I could not re-enter the Assembly gallery that night. All told, eighteen people were arrested.

Many of these arrests were captured on video. One of the best is on YouTube under the title “Police State – Concealed Cameras in the Wisconsin Capitol.” My arrest is at the two-minute mark.

All of the previous citations for holding signs or photographing meetings have been dismissed, and I expect that mine will be dismissed, as well. I expect no other negative repercussions to come from my arrest. It was a farce, honestly, and I do not feel as if I did anything noble or heroic.

All I did was refuse to comply with what I feel is an illegal rule that is in direct violation of the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions and of Wisconsin statutes. Statute 19.90 states, “Whenever a governmental body holds a meeting in open session, the body shall make a reasonable effort to accommodate any person desiring to record, film or photograph the meeting.”

And I will refuse to comply again, if need be. “The First Amendment,” said one of the signs in the gallery, “Use it or lose it.”

Chase Customer of 23 Years Cuts the Card at Madison Bank Transfer Day

Bank Transfer Day was last Saturday.

About 100 people gathered outside the Chase bank on Madison’s square on Saturday November 5th as part of a national Bank Transfer Day. I  interviewed a man I’ll call Al who  ritualistically cut up his Chase card and then walked in to close his account. In his case, he had previously been a customer of Chase for 23 years. Or more accurately, over the course of 23 years he was a customer with other financial institutions that absorbed each other until finally Chase absorbed them and became the tender of his money.

He did that card cutting with a few other card-cutters from Occupy Madison, and the Madison community. He got a tip that if he walked straight from the crowd to the bank he would probably be  kept out of the bank. To put the bank guard at ease, he got some kettle corn with his friend and approached from another direction as if he were just another shopper from the farmers market.

Al was then met by 5 staff who said,”What can we do for you?”.   Al sat down with one of Chase bank’s staff who then made the closure of his account a rather drawn-out process. The extended conversation was interrupted at one point by a protester bursting in to in Al’s words “start screaming”.

The staffer emphasized some of Chase’s better points, telling Al that Chase paid $2 million in Wisconsin state and local taxes in 2010.  Al gave me a sheet that the staffer gave to him.  It has the heading, “JPMorgan Chase & Co. THE WAY FORWARD”.

I’m looking at a 2nd sheet a protester handed to me outside Chase which has the heading, “What you may not know about JP Morgan Chase Bank”. It says if JP Morgan Chase paid “it’s fair share” of 2010 U.S. taxes it would be $1,988,000,000.00 and lists other pertinent points like the fact that the company has 50 offshore tax havens. The sheet doesn’t make it clear to me exactly what Chase did in fact pay in 2010 at the national level, but MoveOn and others claim Chase paid nothing.

While the Chase staffer remained kind throughout, Al thought he became especially tedious when he demanded to know why that particular Chase branch in Madison wasn’t worthy of Al’s business. In a last ditch attempt to appeal to Al, the staffer held his hand over his Chase badge and his heart, leaned in, and said “I live here. I care about the community. I haven’t worked here all that long. This is my job. I think that I can still feel good about what it is I am doing, but I am open to listening to you.”

On that personal lean-in moment, Al said, “I think that there’s a better than 50% chance that was part of his training, too.”

SEIU’s profile of Chase Bank 

Organizing groups with Bank Transfer Day: American Dream Movement Peoples Rights Campaign, Occupy Madison 

Chase’s The Way Forward site:

Photos below are also on facebook. 

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200th Solidarity Sing Along Celebration Videos

Here are my videos of the 200th Solidarity Sing Along Celebration from Nov. 3rd at the High Noon Saloon.
You’ll see the Forward Marching band, the Madtown Liberty Players, Chris Reeder the faithful song leader for the Solidarity Sing Along group and hundreds of people who packed the place. We were just as happy as we look and sound in these videos!
You can see photos at my facebook page.

The first longer video compiles highlights from the separate videos below it.

The 10 minute 22 second reel

Backup video link.

Madtown Liberty Players – the Scott Walker Skit

Backup link to video.

Madtown Liberty Players – the Wisconsin Voting Skit

Backup link to video.

Solidarity Forever

Backup link to video.

This Land is Your Land

Backup link to video.

We Shall Overcome

Backup link to video.

Roll the Union On

Backup link to video.

Roll Out the Recall Polka

Backup link to video.

This is What Democracy Looks Like/We shall overcome MIX

Backup link to video.

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round

Backup link to video.

Free speech arrests: The view from the Assembly floor by Sara Schulz

There have been some strange, long nights in the Assembly, but last night was one of the strangest. The Assembly was due to come back into session at 6:30pm, and people began filing into the gallery by 6:10pm. As the guests were waiting to watch the proceedings, they broke out in “Solidarity Forever” before settling down and talking quietly amongst themselves.

The guests were all seated in the West Gallery. Since the West Gallery is positioned above the Press Corp, the only press able to see the West Gallery was the four seated across the room by the Speaker’s podium, where I was located, and the three that were in the Gallery.

The first arrest occurred around 6:25pm. The individual was removed for using a camera in the gallery. We got through the first couple of bills with a couple more arrests. Early on in the proceedings, the Assembly Speaker threatened to shut down the Gallery due to noise. The Assembly took a break and during the break, some of the Democrats convinced the Speaker to keep it open. By this time, there were several Conservation Cops, Capitol Cops, and ten more State Troopers present. That’s when it got ugly.

First, the officers began removing and arresting anyone with a camera. I heard that a person with a toy camera was even removed. And later that evening, they tried to remove someone who had a pack of gum that, to them, looked like a camera. It’s hard to tell how many were removed….but so many that the cops became backlogged. It was during this time that the editor of the Progressive Magazine and frequent guest on my show, Matt Rothschild, was arrested for taking photos of someone getting arrested for taking photos of the Gallery. You can read his views here.

While all this was going on, the Assembly worked right along, passing bills that had nothing to do with jobs, but bills that the GOP felt were important. The bills that were passed while Wisconsin citizens were getting arrested are: SB 28, AB 69, AB 147, AB 301, AB 116, and SB 107 among others. I highly recommend that you read these bills. They are sad, amusing, and as stated above, not one of them creates jobs.

Then, in the middle of one debate, Rep. Alvin Ott stood up and started screaming into the microphone that a woman up in the gallery was holding an ALEC sign and that she was bothering him. He demanded that she be removed .So the woman, who was nicely dressed in a suit, silently holding a sign, was removed by the police and so was everyone else with a sign.

The flurry of activity continued while the Assembly argued about non-job related bills. Rep. Cory Mason was one of the only legislators to comment on what was happening. He, at one point, tweeted that there were half as many people there compared to when they started. And that was very true…by that time, there were.

When all was said and done there were 18 arrests. 18 law abiding citizens were arrested, ticketed, and released for following what the State and US Constitution allows them to do….take photos and hold signs. Most of these people had never before been arrested, and some even brought their kids. All were there exercising their Constitutional rights. Welcome to another night in Fitzwalkerstan.

Postscript-Sara Schulz does an excellent live online call-in show on Wisconsin politics and news every Friday at 9-11AM Central HERE. Her shows are also repeated on Madison’s 99.1 FM every Saturday 6-8PM Central. You can listen to archived shows and even subscribe by itunes or RSS feed so you never miss an episode. – blue cheddar

Hat tip to Waukesha Wonk for editing.