Archives for the month of: February, 2011

Sometimes it’s hard to be a Governor with national political ambitions.  The rich special interests that paid for your campaign demand bold action, you want to impress them to make a name for yourself, but there are all of these pesky laws and constituents that keep hindering your plans for national domination! It’s just not fair! Everyone knows you’re the next Ronald Reagan and the people of Wisconsin are your Berlin Wall!

So what do you, Scott Walker, do when things don’t go as planned?  What do you do when tens of thousands of people from your state continue daily protests against your attempt to take away their labor unions? What do you do when poll after poll after poll after poll after poll after poll shows that the public is against your measures to limit collective bargaining? (Note, the first three of these polls were done by conservative organizations). What do you do when the majority of people surveyed in Wisconsin say they would vote for your opponent if the election was held again today? What do you do when you’ve learned that you and your allies are vulnerable to recall? What do you do when you get sued for violating labor laws? And the City of Milwaukee’s lawyer says your budget “repair” bill is unconstitutional?  And what if the media doesn’t grow tired of the protesters as you predicted they would and they keep reporting about the protesters day after day after day?

Well if you are Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Republican allies, you don’t negotiate to end the public’s concerns about your measures, but instead go after the very expression of political dissent. Today protesters were no longer welcome in the Wisconsin State Capitol because they were protesting too much…errr…they’re dirty or broke something, or something. Don’t ask for evidence because none will be provided!

Unfortunately for Governor Walker, the Wisconsin State Constitution forbids the legislature from preventing public access to the State Capitol (Article 1, Section 4).  The state is citing an administrative rule to defend itself on this one (They cite DOA rule 2.04)–but since when does an administrative rule trump the State Constitution?

Article 1, Section 4 of Wisconsin State Constitution taped to the locked door of the Wisconsin State Capitol

One thing has become clear from the stalemate on Governor Walker’s budget adjustment bill, Governor Walker is very good at staying on message.  His message to Wisconsin has been: blame the Democrats who fled to Illinois.  He reiterated this message again this morning.  The Governor’s message is: if you don’t come back, every bad thing I do to this state will be your fault.  But such a message is incredibly disingenuous. Here’s why:

Democrats, Unions and even one Republican have come to the table with compromise legislation, Governor Walker refuses to compromise

  • As mentioned previously, Democratic members in the state assembly last offered a compromise proposal to the budget adjustment that gave Governor Walker 90% of what he wanted and would have saved the state even more money. This compromise was voted down by the Republican-controlled Assembly.
  • Further, leaders of the state’s largest public employee unions have made it clear that they will support the Governor’s concessions so long as they can continue to collectively bargain. These unions combined represent approximately 150,000 public employees–by far the majority. Again–such an agreement gives Governor Walker essentially everything he’s asked for, minus the incredibly controversial collective bargaining proposal that the majority of Wisconsin residents, even when polled by conservatives, do not support. But instead of doing the reasonable thing and agreeing to “win” by 90%, the Governor has been working to discredit the unions’ statements by pointing out recent (? not sure–no dates are given) union negotiations in which unions did not take big cuts. Walker’s logic in this regard is faulty.  He provides no evidence that the unions in question are part of the unions that have agreed to his concessions, or unions that would even be involved in negotiations on the state level (it appears they are all municipal unions). Wisconsin is full of tiny bargaining units of 100 employees or less, so yeah, not really the unions we’re talking about here. In other words, different unions, different employer at the bargaining table. Further, Walker’s release completely ignores the fact that the municipalities in question have made the choice to agree to these contract terms.  That’s likely because, unlike the state, the cities of Madison, Janesville and others know that it is in their best interest to retain their high-quality public workers.
  • Republican Senator Dale Schultz proposed, but ultimately did not allow a vote on, a compromise bill that would contain union concessions and suspend collective bargaining for two years.  Schultz claims he did not propose the measure because the Democrats were Illinois (I don’t get it either).  But the fact remains that the bill had no Republican support, and it appears that he may have been threatened by Republican leadership for even proposing a compromise.  Frankly Governor Walker and the Republican Legislative leadership are incredibly foolish in their disregard Sen. Schultz’s measure. Accepting such a term would again give them everything they want and also make them look like reasonable leaders.  Further, as Governor Walker has the ability to line item veto the sunset requirement for the collective bargaining measure, they could have passed the compromise and removed all the language that made it a compromise in the first place.

If public employees do get laid off in Wisconsin it will not be for any unwillingness to negotiate on the part of union supporters–it will be because Scott Walker and his legislative puppets (they are supposed to check and balance, right?) wants to win completely and at any cost.

One thing the Governor consistently ignores with his never-ending slew of same-sounding press releases and tweets: he is the leader of this state.  When there is unrest in the state, when there is a legislative impasse in the state, when Wisconsin voters are barred from their Capitol, when Legislative leaders propose violating labor laws to force the other party into compliance, when neighbors begin to feel anger against their neighbors–it is the state’s Governor who should step up to be the leader who resolves the conflict and find the road to compromise.

Shortly after 1:00 a.m. this morning the Wisconsin State Assembly passed Governor Walker’s middle-class punishing budget repair bill–essentially making Wisconsin 14 Democratic State Senators away from having virtually no collective bargaining rights for tens of thousands of public employees. The vote was done after nearly 60 hours of debate and with no warning to Democrats. In fact, Democrats still had 15 speakers left to talk about the bill. Only a handful of Democrats even voted on the measure before Republicans shut down voting. Here’ is the chaos that resulted:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

UNCUT: Assembly Calls Vote & Passes Budget Repa…, posted with vodpod

This was followed by calls of “Shame! Shame!” from Democrats as Republicans fled the Assembly floor avoiding any interaction with the media.  Peter Barca, a Democrat from Kenosha believes the vote may have been illegal and was quickly done as more and more Republicans began to waver on the bill.  Interestingly, four Republicans made up the 17 “no” votes their leaders allowed to occur.

Democrats tried without success to approach Governor Walker with compromise legislation that allowed union concessions while preserving collective bargaining–an alternative that actually left Wisconsin with more money than Governor Walker’s proposal.  But this measure was voted down by Republicans.  That’s right, a measure that would have ended all of the protests at the Capitol, provided the Governor with the concessions he asked for, protected the employees Scott Walker keeps threatening to lay off and left the state with MORE money was voted down by Republicans.

Why? It’s hard not to be cynical about this, but I can think of no other reason other than that the Republicans are so consumed by “winning,” or helping Governor Walker “win” by passing his measure without changes, that they are willing to allow the lay off of hundreds of  hard-working people.

Even more troubling, the Republican-controlled State Senate today pushed the budget repair bill past the amendable stage.  This means that the bill Governor Walker proposed will pass without changes or it won’t pass at all. Wisconsin Republicans have consistently criticized the 14 Democratic Senators who are hiding in Illinois as “not doing their jobs” by not voting on the bill. But the Republicans have made it clear they will not consider any of the Democrats ideas and they simply want them to rubber stamp a 144-page bill that Governor Walker has admitted will change the course of Wisconsin history.

Republicans aren’t listening to the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who have voiced concerns about the “repair bill” either in person at the Capitol or through letters and phone calls. Republicans aren’t listening to the minority party, which still represents millions of Wisconsinites.  Republicans aren’t listening to recent editorials from across the state that have asked the Governor and legislators to fully debate and pass a version of the bill less restrictive towards collective bargaining and with fewer executive branch power-grabs. (Examples can be found here, here, here, here, here, here.) Republicans aren’t listening to their own members who have offered compromise solutions.  Republicans aren’t listening to the growing concerns about Governor Walker’s ethics and leadership ability. (Some examples from across Wisconsin are found here, here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here,  here, here, here, here, here, here.) Republicans aren’t listening because they are too busy “winning” at any cost–even if that cost is irreparable damage to the people and the state they’ve vowed to serve.

In case you missed it from Wednesday:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Crisis in Dairyland – Scott Walker Prank Call, posted with vodpod

By now most people in Wisconsin who are closely following the protests in Madison are aware of Governor Walker’s attempt at kissing up to a wealthy corporate  campaign donor by slashing pay, benefits and bargaining rights for tens of thousands of middle-class Wisconsinites.  Said kissing up occurred during a 20-minute phone call with David Koch, one of the two brothers behind Koch Industries and a major donor to Walker and chief supporter of Americans for Prosperity (the group that funds and organizes the tea party). Of course, the “David Koch” Walker spoke with was actually Ian Murphy, a blogger with Buffalo Beast, an online news website.  His post with audio of the full conversation is here.  A full transcript of the call can be found here.

In a nutshell Walker spends 20 minutes openly talking strategy to boost political support of his union stripping measures with a man he assumes is one of the largest donors to his campaign.  These strategies include:

  • Telling the 14 Democratic Senators hiding out in Illinois that he will “talk” with them as a means of tricking them into making quorum so the Republican state legislature can pass his budget repair bill (by the way–these 14 Senators represent millions of Wisconsinites, but apparently don’t deserve face time with the Governor, who actually represents all of us, not just the Republicans).
  • Having “Koch”  help with “getting the message out” about the budget repair bill “not necessarily with ads”. This help would be provided to Republicans from swing legislative districts who are apparently wavering in approval of Walker’s measures.
  • Approving, or at least being part of the approval process of, the Senate President’s proposal to withhold direct deposits of the 14 Senators in Illinois.
  • Having the attorney general investigate the possibility of using felony charges to coerce Democrats back.
  • Acknowledging that he or his administration considered bringing in people to antagonize protesters, but decided not to because the press will soon grow tired of the protests.
  • And perhaps most appallingly, saying he would give layoff notices to thousands of state employees as a way to ratchet up pressure for the Democrats to return. (Would you want your father or mother or wife or husband to be laid off so that your Governor could get the most win out a political argument? It should be mentioned that the unions have already fully agreed to all of Walker’s concessions so long as unions can still organize and bargain in the future.)

Analysis of the call is only starting to trickle in during the past day. Obviously the most crucial question that must be answered is whether such a conversation violates any of Wisconsin’s ethics law.  The Governor is certainly asking “Koch” to help him get the message out about his proposals in certain legislative districts, but is he asking for a donation? Does the help he’s asking for imply a request for ads, which require money? Are ads buys considered a campaign donation?  It seems murky.  Certainly, the press was beginning to explore some of the ethical issues in initial stories this evening.  Here’s the reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal, Associated Press and Appleton Post Crescent.  All four open the doors for possible ethical issues with three acknowledging a complaint voiced today by the Public Action Campaign Fund that the discussion of the labor dispute with Koch (a donor and lobbyist) could be an ethical violation.  The State Journal’s article also raises concerns about the implications of Walker expressing a willingness for Koch to fly him to California, which if accepted would be a violation of state ethics rules.

But are these actual ethics violations? Is a willingness to commit an ethics violation the same thing as actually committing a violation? It’s not like a formal invitation was extended to Walker for a trip to California.

But even if no legal issues stem from the prank call, the Governor’s willingness to speak in such detail and strategize with a campaign donor and lobbyist on the taxpayer’s dime should raise some alarms with independent viewers of the protests in Madison.  What Walker’s call reveals is that the Governor is certainly more willing to speak to a large campaign donor than with thousands of regular people from Wisconsin and their representatives.

Further, the system of checks and balances in Wisconsin is in a state of total bankruptcy.  Not only is the Republican-controlled legislature passing everything the Governor proposes with virtually no review or change, the legislative leadership is consulting with Walker on political strategy to speed up passage of his bills. The state’s top law enforcement official, Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is also completely in Walker’s pocket and apparently has no qualms about using taxpayer resources to shore up a big political win for his boss…er…that’s us…so his political party? I guess?

Further, Walker spends several minutes comparing himself to Ronald Reagan and explaining how being a jerk to working people helps fight the red scare or something.  (Little known fact: I went in 2009 to Berlin for the 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall and nobody mentioned Reagan firing air traffic controllers, or Reagan at all for that matter…but there was a lot of talk about Gorbachev, Poland, Air America and the phenomenal incompetence of the East German Government…just saying.)  Also Governor Walker thinks it’s great to joke about bringing a baseball bat to meetings with Wisconsin state senators.

As we continue to move forward with the legislative process, the question we should be asking ourselves is, even if everything in the phone conversation is legal, does that make it right? Is this how we want our government to be run? Should some billionaire from Kansas be pulling the strings of Wisconsin’s Governor?

6:59: Okay, looks like everything’s wrapping up now so I’m going to stop blogging shortly. If anyone has any comments or questions for me, please let me know. Thanks for reading.

6:57: I also appreciate that some of the union advocates explained clearly that the rights to collectively bargain also helps them improve situations and services for the people they serve.

6:54: Breaking: Republican Senator Dale Schulz will offer a compromise to the amendment so that the Governor’s collective bargaining proposals will sunset in two years.  A sign that Republicans are wavering on this? Well…remember that Governor Walker can just veto the sunset proposal.

6:53: I agree that the voter ID bill passing is also devastating to Wisconsin. It’s like everywhere you look it’s just more poopy stuff.

6:51: Long-term control over the budget? This man is already the most powerful Governor in the United States.

6:49: Public sector unions are also partners in economic development! Public sector employees are also trying to make ends meet and help their children. Sheesh. They aren’t aliens who scavenge the landscape.

6:47: Andrew, yes. It’s important to remember that teachers and all of the people affected by this have families. My dad was a teacher. These are middle-class people who contribute to the community in and outside of the workplace.

6:46: Nancy, thank you for making it clear that this is not about money.

6:45: Nice camera trickery Any Choi.

6:42: Got to text to save Democracy!

6:41: Okay–if anyone says Wisconsin or Capitol or Madison–have a drink.

6:38: I feel like I should have extended the drinking game into the regular news cast. Madison East plays Verona now? The new Badger Conference configuration makes me feel like I’m 40.

6:36: Don’t Republicans know that withholding pay from Democrats will only emphasize the point that the 14 Democrats are in Illinois on principal, not for their own self-interest? It just makes the Republicans look spiteful and aggressive.

6:35: I do love the parents who have come out in lieu of the teachers. Very cool–people often forget that there are thousands of us who are engaged in this fight even though it doesn’t directly affect us.

6:33: Umm…I don’t think the Senators’ leaving is unethical. I can understand that Republicans don’t want them to vote from Illinois, but I think the ethics behind them leaving is solid. How ethical is it to change 50 years of labor law, affecting 200,000 people, in 5 days?

6:30: Peter Barca is so great at yelling. I kind of wish that I had him in my apartment when I’m trying to clean: Un.be.liev.a.ble that you did NOT scrub out that GROUT!!!

6:26: Nice shot of a woman in the background wincing and trying to refrain from getting angry as a man in front of her says our taxes are too high and that the Dem Senators need to do their jobs and come back to vote.

6:24: But I do appreciate that Channel 3 is letting some regular people talk. Nice reasoned response from an anti-bill person.

6:23: Channel 3 missed an opportunity to mention that it was over 60,000 protesters against the measure.  It was far from even.

6:18: Governor Walker pretty much hit every point I expected, but I think it’s disingenuous of him to pretend like he’s acknowledging the concerns of the protesters, when he really isn’t at all. The key thing nobody wants to let go of is the right to bargain. Bargaining is an important too that enhances civil service protections.

6:17: I do agree with Sen Miller and Prof. Franklin’s analysis that the Dems are giving room for compromise, while making it clear that the right to negotiate should not be touched.

6:15: Had to take a break to catch up with all of the drinks I didn’t get to take! Also, thanks News 3 for putting on Charles Franklin. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but he does a good job explaining everything.

6:14: Also, please remember that this is not just state employees but all public workers.

6:13: Everything Miller is saying is fine, but it’s so awkward. Maybe people will relate to him?

6:12: Miller seems uncomfortable and nervous.

6:10: Mark Miller’s doing the rebuttal? I’d rather see Erpenbach as he’s been much more engaging throughout this process.

6:09: Governor Walker, your ancestors are from Wisconsin? Also, what has made this state great is the rights we have given to our workers.  It’s the progressive history you are trying to end.

6:08: 1,500 state employees will be laid off by the end of June. Please ignore the gun to your head. I’m modest and reasonable.

6:07: I would be up for more taxes instead of civic unrest. Also, it should be noted–the dems plugged a $7 billion hole. Out of state protesters from Nevada! Where were they today? I didn’t see them.

6:05: It’s modest.  Wisconsin eat your kids and your future.  Modest proposals on the county level–that’s why he was sued by and lost to county workers. We’re up to about 6 drinks I think.

6:04: Dear private workers who support Gov Walker: You have the right to unionize and bargain. This would take those rights away from the public sector.  That’s the issue.

6:03: It’s about the budget and protecting the taxpayer.  Did you know that Wisconsin worker? Sheesh–3 drinks!!

6:02: He understands–that’s why he’s taking away what you’re asking for. Drink 3 times!

6:00 p.m. He loves government workers. What a sweet way of showing it. Drink up!

6:00 p.m. Okay–Fireside about to start.

5:45 p.m. Nice national CBS news face time for the Dem 14.  Okay–I’ve got to get my glass of 3 buck chuck.

5:40 p.m.: A note on logistics–I will be watching the fireside on Madison’s CBS affiliate, Channel 3.  Their coverage has been by far the most extensive this week and they are devoting an entire hour to the fireside chat, a democratic rebuttal and analysis.

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Tonight at 6 p.m. (CST) Wisconsin Governor Walker will address the people of Wisconsin via a fireside chat.  It’s like FDR except that he’ll try to convince us that it’s okay to give massive tax breaks to corporations, while simultaneously saying “we’re broke” in order to justify stripping collective bargaining rights for middle-class people.  Or maybe he won’t talk about the collective bargaining proposals at all, as he sometimes doesn’t.  Also he might not talk about how he wants to make it easier to cut poor people’s Medicaid benefits. Those things are messy and all boo-hooey. It’s not like he’s not a hero or anything; Governor Walker is totally the reverse Robin Hood!

Anyway, come back at 6 pm for our first-ever liveblog/drinking game.  To prepare for your intoxication here are the drinking game rules:

Take one drink whenever Governor Walker says:

1. Taxpayers

2. This is about balancing the budget

3.  Layoffs

4. Public employees are good people.

5. Share sacrifices

6. These concessions are still better than the private sector

7. Flexibility/Resources/Tools for local government

8. Cuts

9. Budget emergency

Take two drinks if he says:

1. Taxpayers support this/Protecting or standing with the taxpayers

2. Silent majority

3. It’s time to get back to work

4. Wisconsin is broke/We’re broke/We don’t have the money

5. Out-of-state protesters

6. Nobody should be surprised by this

7. They need to do their jobs/Do your jobs

Take three drinks if Governor Walker says:

1. Modest proposal

2. Paid protesters

4. I understand

5. Elections have concequences

Any other suggestions? Leave in the comments. See you at 6 p.m.

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Here are some pictures from the goings-on today at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Tomorrow looks to be another active day with the legislature coming back to session.

The rumor mill at the Capitol has been buzzing about increased security measures surrounding the building.  I heard several times that there will be metal detectors.  In fact, there was already increased security today–interestingly enough it began right before Governor Walker’s latest press conference.  Around mid-day today, the entrance to the building had been limited to two entrances (this was also new). But by 5:00 pm, people were asked to now line up and wait to get into the building.  We were told that it was at capacity. However when we got into the building it was not nearly as crowded as it had been in the past (maybe at about 50-75% the amount of people).  Could this have anything to do with the fact that Governor was giving a press conference at 5:00 pm and has consistently been drowned out by protesters in the building during his press conference?

People getting approval to enter their capitol

People wait in line to enter their capitol

Despite the sense that Wisconsinites may soon no longer be welcome in their capitol because they don’t agree with the Governor, the atmosphere in the capitol was still as enthusiastic, united and hopeful as ever.  The best mood lifter was when the firefighters union (which is exempt from the Governor’s measures) announced that it would be bunking in the Capitol overnight with fellow protesters as a sign of solidarity.  Later the crowd roared as several dozen firefighters marched through the rotunda with backpacks and sleeping mats.  They then took up residence next to the bust of Fighting Bob La Follette–and I’m sure Fighting Bob would be in seventh heaven to be honored in such a way during this struggle.

Fighting Bob joins the Local 311

Here were some other choice images:

Walker is not a Hitler, he's just a douchebag

Why can't we be friends with benefits?

Notice to Teabaggers: If you work for a private company, you have the right to organize a union. For private-sector workers, these rights are enforced by a federal agency, the National Labor Relations Board (Milwaukee office: 414-297-3861). You may not have a union, and you may not like unions, but you have the right to have a union. Why deprive state, county, city and school-district employees of this same right? I don't get it.

image

Seen from the Capitol. If you do boycott, let them know why.

Now that the protests over union rights in Wisconsin have gone on for a couple of days, we’re saturated with national media attention. Some of it from news outlets trying to present the facts and others from organizations that want to push people either to or away from our cause.  Here’s an example of some anti-union propaganda from the Heritage Institute (The music seems especially designed to make all union supporters look like incompetent bumpkins.) As someone who lives two blocks from the Capitol, keeps up with the news, and goes to the rallies every day I feel obligated to present some facts about what is actually going on to combat some of the misinformation circulating about these events.

Myth: Governor Walker’s proposals are modest concessions that will leave unions in tact.  (Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Governor Walker’s Twitter feed)

Fact: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article above does a good job of explaining why Governor Walker’s proposals regarding collective bargaining are not “modest” (didn’t this dude ever read Swift?) and will seriously cripple organized labor in Wisconsin.  In short, Governor Walker wants to end the unions’ ability to negotiate on anything but pay.  Being able to still negotiate pay might seem like an okay compromise, but it essentially removes all chips from the table. Say if a union negotiated a 3% pay increase–the employer could simply lower the amount they pay into employees’ healthcare to offset the costs of the wage increase.  The proposal leaves the unions with nothing to negotiate and seriously limits middle-class workers’ rights in the workplace.

Further, the measure that forces unions to certify every year will come at a huge cost (in time and money) to unions–leaving them with few resources to actually fight for the working conditions of their members.

Myth: Wisconsin unions are  unwilling to share sacrifices. (Source: People quoted in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article)

Fact: What seems to get confused in some of the news stories I’ve seen is that there are numerous proposals in the budget “repair” bill aimed at public employees.  The ones that are everyone is upset about are the ones that end collective bargaining and unions in Wisconsin (see above).

Other proposals ask employees to pay more for their health insurance and pension.  Often, these increased contributions are mentioned to show how reasonable Governor Walker is being without mentioning that he is also trying to end unions in Wisconsin. Here’s an example of what I mean. Here’s an example from Governor Walker. This makes it seem like people are protesting because they don’t want to pay more for their benefits and in turn demonizes protesters by making them look greedy.

In fact, key union leaders in Wisconsin agreed on Friday to the Governor’s request for benefit concessions so long as Governor Walker takes away his collective bargaining measures. Governor Walker refused.  In other words, unions are more than willing to share the sacrifice and negotiate, but Governor Walker is so committed to ending unions that he won’t even come to the table.

Myth: Wisconsin public employees make more than their private sector counterparts (Source: This video, among many, many others)

Fact: When you factor in pay, benefits and education, Wisconsin public employees make 4.8% less than their private counterparts.

Myth: Wisconsin is broke (Source: Governor Walker)

Fact: This one is a little harder because state budgeting is complicated.  First, what’s important to know is the current state budget (that ends June 30th of this year) is balanced.  For the next budget,  Wisconsin is estimated to have ~$3 billion deficit. Wisconsin’s state budget process starts by putting together all state agency requests for the next two years and comparing them to estimated revenue.  This comparison leads to estimated deficit number.  So that $3 billion–that’s a deficit that will likely happen if state agencies get all of their requests fully funded.  It’s not a number that is at all written in stone–it’s easily changeable by not funding all agency requests or delaying for a couple of years certain infrastructure projects (such as adding a lane to 40 miles of the interstate between Beloit and Madison).

Remember, the current budget had a $6.6 billion deficit and we are ending the year balanced.

Myth: Only affected union members and students are protesting (Source: Every reporter who refers to the protesters as state employees, teachers, union members, etc.)

Fact: This is an easy one. I’m not in a union. I’ve never been in a union. Also not a student. I support this. So do the Green Bay Packers and the Archbishop of Milwaukee. ‘Nuff said. But seriously, this is a community effort.

Myth: The rallies in Madison are riots

Fact: Seven days. Nine arrests total. Yesterday saw 60,000 people and zero arrests.  This is all happening in my neighborhood and I feel perfectly safe.

Myth: The silent majority of Wisconsin supports these measures (Numerous Republicans, but here’s an example.)

Fact: There have  been two polls conducted since Governor Walker’s anti-union measures were proposed–both showing that the majority of Wisconsin residents are against Governor Walker’s measures.  One, done by a liberal group, shows people in Wisconsin are against Governor Walker’s measures by a 2-to-1 ratio.  Another poll, done by a more conservative group shows that 52% disapprove of the collective bargaining measures and only 43% are in favor.

Myth: The Wisconsin Democratic state senators that fled the state to avoid voting on this measure are shirking their responsibilities

Fact: This is more of a “depends on who you ask” type answer.  My senator is one the 14 camped out in  Illinois and I think he did absolutely the right thing. This bill will dramatically change working conditions for hundreds of thousands of hard-working middle-class Wisconsinites in a matter of days.  These people are the fuel of our state economy. This isn’t some emergency increases to park licenses or a new zoning law or even .5% tax increase–this is about people’s’ entire livelihoods and maintaining our labor tradition.

Every day we learn of another huge item tucked into the Governor’s measures. Only today was there any decent press on proposals in Governor Walker’s budget bill that would dramatically impact some of most vulnerable residents on Medicaid. The only reason why we are hearing about these things before they’ve been passed into law is because the Senate Dems stalled the bill.  Otherwise, per the governor’s request, this would have all been law on Friday.

Forward--Vote No

Myth: Governor Walker is defending the Wisconsin taxpayers (Source: Governor Walker)

Fact: Governor Walker is only defending the taxpayers in Wisconsin who agree with his measures.  Union members and their supporters are also taxpayers .  Also state employees pay taxes, too.  I know, it’s a shock!

Myth: Unions aren’t  necessary anyway

Fact: Umm…you and 80,000 of your best friends fighting together to retain your rights to negotiate with your employer as opposed to you fighting all by yourself…I think Wisconsin has shown now more than ever why unions are still incredibly necessary.

image

Here’s the view from where I’m standing in the state capitol rotunda. The crowd is intensely chatting “forward, not backward!”(Ed–This post was written, picture taken midday Feb. 17–phone malfunctioned and it did not post).