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Wisconsin Governor Defies Court Order to Open Capitol

Madison – In a dramatic turn of events at the Wisconsin State Capitol today, Governor Scott Walker defied a court order to open the Capitol for normal business operations. State legislator, Representative Marc Pocan, called the move "not only unprecedented, but contempt of court as well."

On Monday at 8:00 a.m., the Wisconsin Capitol building, which was the site of dozens of major protests in the last two weeks including one of over 100,00 on Sunday, was virtually locked down as the Governor moved to limit protester access in advance of his scheduled budget address on Tuesday.

Wisconsin Protests, Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MARY BOTTARI ON DEMOCRACY NOW!

Watch our own Mary Bottari speak on Democracy NOW! about thousands of protesters that were being denied entry to the State Capitol yesterday despite a court order to open the building to the public.

CMD REPORTS: WISCONSIN GOVERNOR DENIES COURT ORDER TO OPEN CAPITOL

From Mary Bottari. Read the full article here.

In a dramatic turn of events at the Wisconsin State Capitol today, Governor Scott Walker defied a court order to open the Capitol for normal business operations. State legislator, Representative Marc Pocan, called the move "not only unprecedented, but contempt of court as well."

On Monday at 8:00 a.m., the Wisconsin Capitol building, which was the site of dozens of major protests in the last two weeks -- including one of over 100,00 on Sunday -- was virtually locked down as the Governor moved to limit protester access in advance of his scheduled budget address on Tuesday.

After untold numbers were turned away at the door Monday and told they could not speak to their legislators, Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney pulled his deputies from the Capitol saying it was not their job to act as "palace guard." Wisconsin has some of the strongest open meetings and open government laws in the nation, and the local sheriff's department had played a key role in allowing protesters to exercise their legal rights in a public space, while keeping the protests inside and outside the Capitol safe and incident-free.

Utah Group Seeks to Recall Wisconsin Democratic Senators

The conservative American Recall Coalition, a group from Salt Lake City, Utah, is leading the charge to reel in eight Democratic Senators in Wisconsin who are among 14 lawmakers who left the state in protest of Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB).

The out-of-state group last week filed with the GAB website to recall the Senators, but initial filings did not have anyone from the local senatorial district as part of the recall requests.

"They didn't have any local people involved, so we contacted them and said they need to have one local person in each district," said GAB spokesman Reid Magney. "They withdrew those initial filings and made new ones and we are waiting for the signed paperwork."

Wisconsin Protests, Monday, February 28, 2011

CMD REPORTS: LEGAL ACTION TAKEN MONDAY TO KEEP CAPITOL OPEN, TUESDAY COMMITTEE HEARINGS "OPEN" TO THE PUBLIC

9:00 p.m. - Mary Bottari reports: Peg Lautenschlager, the former Attorney General of Wisconsin, announced Monday night on the Ed Schultz Show (MSNBC) that she had already filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) to keep the WI State Capitol open to citizens. The TRO was filed in response to the fact that citizens are having a more and more difficult time getting into the WI capitol building, as the Governor's office attempts to clear the building in advance of his 4:00 p.m. budget address on Tuesday.

Access to the capitol is protected by the Wisconsin Constitution and WI open records law when there is legislative business. Late tonight, Jonathan Rosenblum spotted committee hearing notices at the State Capitol with the following language at bottom:

"We Shall Not Be Moved"

A large, multi-union coalition gathered near the "Fighting" Bob LaFollette bust on the first floor of the East Gallery in the Wisconsin State Capitol this afternoon. Wearing gray T-shirts with the words "Wisconsin United for Worker's Rights" printed in red across an outline of the state, they sat down and started to sing, "We shall not be moved," just after the official building shut-down at 4 p.m.

"We know we have a right to peaceful protest," said Candice Owley, a Milwaukee nurse with the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. "We don't believe they should be removing us from the State Capitol."

Owley said those in her group planned to follow directions outlined by a grassroots group inside the capitol that has been preparing for today. The goal: to keep the protest peaceful, and allow those who wish to continue to keep vigil in protest of Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill to remain in the building.

Wisconsin Protests, Sunday, February 27, 2011

 
Representative Brett Husley's office door papered with post-its from unions, students and regular citizens thanking him for staying around the Capitol to oppose SB 11.11:58 p.m. - Jonathan Rosenblum reports: According to unofficial count approximately 300 protesters are staying the night and a low profile contingent of law enforcement, some with "State Fair" patches on their shoulders. Less than two dozen visible.

10:51 p.m. - Jonathan Rosenblum sends this photo of Representative Brett Husley's office door papered with post-its from unions, students and regular citizens thanking him for staying around the Capitol to oppose SB 11. He and Representaive Kelda Roys were present through the announcement around 7:00 p.m. tonight that protesters of the bill would not be expelled from the Capitol.

8:48 p.m. - Jonathan Rosenblum reports that he is in line for official occupation manna (more pizza) with Andrew Rohn and Cat Capellaro who wrote the musicals Temp Slave and Walmartopia. They say they have contributed the following chant to the rotunda: "Unions make Wisconsin better. This revolution is fueled by cheddar.

What Else Is In Walker's Bill?

While news coverage has focused on how Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill attacks the state's 300,000 public sector workers (and by extension, the entire middle class), the law is increasingly recognized as an attack on the poor. It curtails (and perhaps eliminates) access to the Medicaid programs relied upon by 1.2 million Wisconsinites, limits access to public transportation, and hinders rural community access to broadband internet. The bill keeps the poor unhealthy, immobile, and uninformed.

Governor Walker and the GOP have said they will not balance the state's alleged "budget deficit" by raising taxes and increasing revenue. Instead, they will focus on decreasing expenditures in a way that disproportionately impacts the poor and middle class. At an event at Wisconsin Law School on February 24, former U.S. Solicitor of Labor and professor emeritus of law Carin Clauss said, "We have to acknowledge that we are imposing what amounts to a de facto tax hike" on the poor. She noted that "this bill will kick people off medicare, require increased payments into health and pension funds," and "could hamstring mass public transport," all of which decrease take-home pay and increase costs for poor- and middle- class Wisconsinites.

Koch Brothers "Prank" No Laughing Matter

WalkerphoneEmbattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came under fire today after news broke about statements he made in a 20-minute phone call from a Buffalo-area alternative news reporter, Ian Murphy of the Daily Beast, posing as David Koch, a billionaire whose corporate PAC directly supported Walker and who has given millions to groups that have run ads to aid Walker's rise to the state's highest office. (Listen to the call here.)

As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, the Koch PAC not only spent $43,000 directly on Walker's race, but Koch personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association which spent $5 million in the state. Besides the Governor, the Koch brothers have other "vested interests" in the state.

Prank Koch Call Prompts More Legal Questions

Madison -- The heat ratcheted up on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as more questions were raised about the 20-minute phone call from a Buffalo-area alternative news reporter posing as David Koch, a billionaire whose corporate PAC directly supported Walker and who has given millions to groups that have run ads to aid Walker's rise to the state's highest office. (Find a transcript of the call here).

The section of the tape that has come under the most scrutiny involved Walker's comments that he considered planting "troublemakers" into the crowd. People on the ground here in Madison were quite aware that the first five days of protests were packed with children. The Madison school district and many surrounding districts were closed. Thousands of elementary school children and their parents marched at the capitol in support of local teachers. On the first day and second days, thousands of high school students walked out on their classes and headed to the capitol. The atmosphere was festive and fun, popcorn stands on the corner and thousands of homemade signs.

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