Wisconsin Protests, Tuesday, February 22, 2011


News reports indicate that legislators in Indiana have crossed state lines to protest votes on legislation that would savage the right of working people to collectively bargain. McClatchy Newspapers summarizes the rustbelt rebellion: "In Wisconsin, where the state Senate has been paralyzed because Democrats fled to block Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from government workers, the governor warned he would send 1,500 layoff notices unless his proposal passes. In Indiana, Democrats in the state Assembly vanished, depriving that body of the quorum needed to pass a right-to-work law and limit government unions' powers. And in Ohio, an estimated 5,500 protesters stood elbow to elbow in and outside the Capitol chanting "Kill the bill!" as a legislative committee took up a proposal that would similarly neuter government unions."

It's not the first time that state legislators have taken dramatic action to prevent a vote on a critical issue. In 1839, a young Abraham Lincoln, serving as a Whig in the Illinois House, jumped out of the building in a futile bid to prevent Democrats from getting a quorum to vote on a banks bill. Perhaps that is why legislators from Wisconsin and Indiana are fleeing to the "Land of Lincoln."


Mary Bottari: Steven Colbert talks back to Wisconsin protesters who had the nerve to hang a banner in the Wisconsin Capitol "Stewart/Colbert: We Came to Your Protest You Should Come to Ours."

He devoted half of his show today to the Wisconsin protests, making sure WI protestors knew his name was Steven not Stewart. Check out the video here when it is posted tomorrow: http://www.colbertnation.com/home


Erica Pelzek reports:

Standing at 284 feet tall, the Wisconsin Capitol has long drawn comparison to the United States Capitol building. And for good reason, in fact. The grand Wisconsin Capitol is only three feet shorter than the United States Capitol. State law even requires buildings within one mile of the Wisconsin Capitol not be taller than the building’s pillars supporting its dome. And it’s topped with a beautiful, gilded-bronze “Lady Wisconsin” statue at its apex, much like the U.S. Capitol’s bronze Statue of Freedom.

Inside, the Wisconsin Capitol is open to the public 365 days a year, encouraging Wisconsinites and out-of-towners to wander in awe and gawk at the Capitol’s hand-carved furniture and impressive Rotunda, not to mention the incredible domed Rotunda ceiling.

The Capitol has seen many transformations over the decades, including a massive fire in 1904 and an 11-year rebuild from 1906-1917.

And now, since protesters began spending the night in the Wisconsin State Capitol Wed., Feb. 15, the majestic building has transformed again—organically—into a home away from home for Wisconsinites.

No longer simply a physical reminder of their presence in Wisconsin’s capital city or a beautiful, cool place to walk through on a hot Farmer’s Market Saturday, the Capitol has become a living, breathing, bubbling and toiling brew of democracy. The people spending these past several days in it—the working Wisconsin families, college students, firefighters, police officers and many others—are its bastions, its bulwarks, its buttresses.

Political signs hung with blue tape, so as not to damage the Capitol’s gorgeous marble pillars and walls, have become a sort of revolutionary wallpaper throughout the building. Corners of the vast Wisconsin house have morphed into nooks for medical clinics, buffets of donated food, makeshift sleeping areas, quiet study “rooms” and information stations for new-arrival protesters.

Sparkly streamers and notes of support don Democratic legislators’ office doors, and caricatures of Walker and Republican state legislators find prominent placement on the Capitol’s enormous hallways pillars. A Liberty Bell replica becomes a focal point, sprouting signs discussing constitutional rights, including the rights of workers to organize and bargain for their wages, hours and workplace conditions.

Children run freely in the hallways, fetching more crayons and toys from the grassroots volunteer information booths that have popped up. Their parents sip coffee and converse with other protesters, clutching signs or propping them up on their empty strollers.

This is what democracy looks like.

Rep. Scott Suder (R-69, Abbotsford) flocked by protestors7:00 p.m. - SUDER TUNES OUT PROTESTORS

Brendan Fischer reports that Rep. Scott Suder (R-69, Abbotsford) is flocked by protestors as he speaks to television cameras across from the capitol. While waiting for filming to begin, Rep. Suder stood silently with his back to most protestors as they chanted "do the right thing!" and "recall! recall!" and individuals shouted "my kid deserves a future!" and "you know this isn't about the budget!" Suder did not heed calls to "turn around and look at us! Look at the people you are hurting by this law!"

Wisconsin State Capitol at nightOnce cameras started rolling, protest leaders hushed the chants of protestors reminding them that "we don't want to shout him down" (apparently deciding in advance that they would take the high road and avoid O'Reilly tactics). As Rep. Suder spoke, protestors chanted "(repeat the lie), (repeat the lie)" in hushed tones. Rep. Suder appeared mostly unfazed by the protests, completed the interview, and walked off without acknowledging any of the people concerned about the effects of the budget repair bill.


Erica Pelzek reports: The Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill battle rages on, with Gov. Scott Walker continuing to refuse to compromise with Democratic Senators and public sector employees over collective bargaining rights.

"They gave him the money," said Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, of Wisconsin public workers' willingness to pay higher health care premiums and pensions if allowed to retain their collective bargaining rights under Gov. Scott Walker's Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill. Miller was televised from a press conference in Chicago, Ill. immediately after Walker's 6:00 p.m. "fireside chat."

Borrowing Franklin Delano Roosevelt's term, Walker's "chat" reiterated his stance on the proposed Budget Repair Bill: this argument is about money and the State of Wisconsin budget.

After referencing a woman with an autistic child, a Wisconsin teacher and middle-class private sector employees, including his brother and sister-in-law, who stand by the budget repair bill, Walker finally addressed the issue of collective bargaining rights for unionized workers.

"The system is broken," Walker said, implying that former Gov. Jim Doyle's tax raises were a short-term fix to a long-term budgetary problem.

And so, by "addressing" collective bargaining rights, Walker threatened 1,500 state employee layoffs by the beginning of June, with 5-6,000 more layoffs possible after June if the Budget Repair Bill is not passed by that time.

He spent the rest of the "chat" lambasting Democratic State Senators, insisting that they "need to come home" and "do the jobs they were elected to do"—be on the Senate floor to pass legislation that would, effectively, eliminate 50 years of collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin.

Sen. Miller, D-Monona, noted that the unions have repeatedly said they are willing to make pension and insurance concessions but not give up their collective bargaining rights: "This is a compromise that any good leader should be able to recognize and see," said Sen. Miller.

UW-Madison Political Science Professor Charles Franklin appeared on Channel 3000 after Sen. Miller's press conference, admitting that Walker "offered no olive branch, no concessions" to the workers of Wisconsin.


Mary Bottari reports from the WI Capitol Building: The WI Senate voted to implement a new Senate Rule that if you miss two days of floor action you must come to pick up your paycheck in person. In other words, they have just cut off the Wisconsin 14 from their paychecks. Ouch.


Brendan Fischer reports: As the governor delivered his "fireside chat" from his conference room, protestors within the packed capitol building once again created a thunderous roar of chanting, drumming, and vuvuzela-ing. Televisions were set up in the rotunda to show Governor Walker's talk, and though speakers were apparently broadcasting his message, nothing could be heard above the chants of the protestors ("you're fired! you're fired!" "kill the bill!" "the people, united, will never be divided!"). The image of Governor Walker's lips moving noiselessly onscreen above the roar of the crowd was certainly a strange sight. As soon as the message ended and Walker's face disappeared from the screen, the protestors erupted in cheers that somehow managed to surpass their previous sonic levels.

Governor Walker, I taught conflict resolution today. Do you need a lesson?5:30 p.m. - EVENING RALLY

Mary Bottari: Debra Kohwey of Deerfield High School hold's a sign that says "Governor Walker I taught Conflict Resolution Today, Do You Need a Lesson?" at today's 5:00 p.m. rally. I asked her what the key to successful conflict resolution was and she responded, "first you have to be willing to listen, then you need to set up a win-win situation where both sides can feel good. All the unions have said that it is not about money and we are willing to make concessions, now it is Governor Walker's turn. It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss characters that stand toe to toe, face to face and they won't budge while the whole world changes around them. This time one party is willing to do more, but the other is not."

5:17 p.m. - Brendan Fischer reports that there is a robust turn out for the 5:00 p.m. rally. Announced March 2nd Day of Action nationally.


Minnesota Nurses. We Care. For You.Mary Bottari reports: A number of times today in interviews and in his "Fireside Chat" Gov. Walker mentioned that he was not concerned for his security when it came to Wisconsin workers, but there were out-of-town protestors here -- some even from Illinois -- that raise security concerns for him. I put on my snow boots and went to the 5:00 p.m. rally to find these dangerous outside agitators. After weaving through the crowd of Madison teachers, kids and students and searching high and low, I found one! I bumped into Meg Matzke from Minnessota, she cleverly tried to blend in with the crowd by wearing red. I asked her if she was here to do the governor harm. "I don't do harm. I am a nurse," said Matzke, RN, with a laugh. She quickly got serious though when she explained that she and other nurses had had a rally in Minneapolis in support of Wisconsin, but she wanted to be here in person. "We have 13 unionized hospitals in Minnesota. This bill is an assault on our workers, as well as workers everywhere," she said. "Collective bargaining gives us a voice in the work place. I am on a safety committee, I am on a staffing committee, I am on nurse practice committees. Nurses were getting harmed so we were able to negotiate 'no lifting' rules and now we use equipment and we have things like staff ratios to keep our patients safe." Metzke explained that it didn't take a law to achieve these protections, but it did necessitate a union.

5:00 p.m. - EVENING RALLY

Brendan Fischer reports on the 5:00 p.m. rally: A surprising number of protestors braved the cold and snow in day eight of the rally against Governor Walker's budget repair bill. Speakers thanked Walker "for doing more in a single week to bring us to together than anything that has happened in years!" and pledged that the fight would continue through recalls and the campaign in 2012. In response to the call, "worker's rights are under attack; what do we do?" protestors shouted "we fight back!" "When student rights are under attack, what do we do?" "We fight back!" A Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) representative thanked the public servants who plowed the roads from last night's snowstorm so she could arrive today, and a labor law attorney recalled the history of the labor movement, and noted that only after years of protests, sit-ins, and strife "did they grant us the rights that were already ours. And now they think they can take them away!" He said "the power does not lie with the massive corporations who create phony front groups like Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, power does not lie with the governor, power does not lie with the legislature... The power is with the people! ...and we are going to continue the fight for equity, for the American way, and for the American dream, and to make it a reality for all people, regardless of whether they work in the public or the private sector!"


MoveOn.org has started a campaign to organize emergency rallies in 50 states to support Wisconsinites.

Calling all students, teachers, union members, workers, patriots, public servants, unemployed folks, progressives, and people of conscience:

In Wisconsin and around our country, the American Dream is under fierce attack. Instead of creating jobs, Republicans are giving tax breaks to corporations and the very rich, and then cutting funding for education, police, emergency response and vital human services. The right to organize is on the chopping block. The American Dream is slipping out of reach for more and more Americans, and we have to fight back.

We call for emergency rallies in front of every statehouse this Saturday at noon to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. Demand an end to the attacks on workers' rights and public services across the country. Demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.

We are all Wisconsin.

We are all Americans.

Add your endorsement and this Saturday we will stand together to save the American Dream.

Clicking below will add your name so you can start spreading the word: http://pol.moveon.org/callforaction/o.pl?id=26218-17597122-y129qFx&t=4

Thanks for all you do.

--Daniel, Lenore, Joan, Justin, and the rest of the team


Anne Landman reports: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did not campaign for office calling for the destruction of public unions, but a closer look at his past actions shows that he acted rashly toward union workers before, with disastrous and costly results.

...[I]nstead of paying experienced security officers trained by the state to do the job of securing a government building, such as a county courthouse, the citizens of Wisconsin got stuck with:

  • less qualified security guards protecting Wisconsin citizens -- one of the guards even had a serious criminal record;
  • the profits of Walker's no-bid deal going to a global corporation headquartered in Europe;
  • lower wages being paid to the contractors hired by that global corporation, meaning less money flowing into the local economy;
  • Wisconsin families losing their primary breadwinner due to Scott Walker's rash dictate to fire court security officers who had done nothing wrong; and
  • the Wisconsin taxpayer footing the bill for both the global corporation's charges (and profit margin) for providing security and also the back wages of the civil servants whose jobs were summarily destroyed by Walker, in violation of Wisconsin law.

Walker's dictates indisputably took decent-paying Wisconsin jobs and handed them to a foreign corporation to profit from, and he did so in the aftermath of global banks crashing the American economy.


CMD's Executive Director Lisa Graves speaks about the Koch brothers Wisconsin connection with Judith Davidoff of the Capital Times:

The billionaire brothers whose political action committee gave Gov. Scott Walker $43,000 and helped fund a multi-million-dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent during the 2010 gubernatorial election have quietly opened a lobbying office in Madison just off the Capitol Square.

Charles and David Koch, who co-own Koch Industries Inc. and whose combined worth is estimated at $43 billion, have been recently tied by many media outlets to Walker's push to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers. The two have long backed conservative causes and groups including Americans for Prosperity, which organized the tea party rally Saturday in support of Walker's plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights and recently launched the Stand with Scott Walker website.

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, acknowledged in a New York Times story Tuesday that he had encouraged Walker even before the election to mount a showdown with labor groups.

Koch Industries, which owns Georgia-Pacific Corp. and the Koch Pipeline Co., operates a coal company and toilet paper factory in Wisconsin as well as gasoline supply terminals.

The expanded lobbying effort by the Koch brothers in Wisconsin raises questions for some in particular because of a little discussed provision in Walker's repair bill that would allow Koch Industries and other private companies to purchase state-owned power plants in no-bid contracts.

"It's curious that the Kochs have apparently expanded their lobbying presence just as Walker was sworn into office and immediately before a budget was unveiled that would allow the executive branch unilateral power to sell off public utilities in this state in no-bid contracts," says Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, a watchdog group that focuses on corporate power.

Koch Companies Public Sector LLC occupies a seventh-floor suite at 10 E. Doty St., one block off the Capitol Square. According to a tenant who requested anonymity, the lobbying group moved in two weeks before Walker was elected governor on November 2. When contacted for confirmation, Jeffrey Schoepke, the company's regional manager, said through a receptionist that he could not answer any questions and would have to forward them to other company officials.

According to the Government Accountability Board's website, the firm has seven lobbyists who "represent various Koch Industries Inc. companies on public affairs matters, including Flint Hills Resources, LP, an energy purchaser and refiner & transporter of petroleum and Georgia-Pacific, LLC a manufacturer of paper, wood products and building materials." The group's lobbying interests are listed as "the environment, energy, taxation, business, policy and other areas affecting Koch Industries, Inc. companies."

The group has had a lobbying presence in the state before, with four contracted lobbyists from Hamilton Consulting, located in a separate office at 10 E. Doty St., billing just over $97,000 for services during the 2009-11 legislative session, according to the GAB. Three of these lobbyists — Amy Boyer, Andrew Engel and Robert Fassbender — continue to be listed as lobbyists for the firm along with Ray Carey, Jason Childress, Kathleen Walby and Schoepke.

The lobbyists for Koch Companies Public Sector registered with the state on January 5, two days after Walker's inauguration.

4:15 p.m. - The Wisconsin AFL-CIO is organizing rallies by senate district.

4:00 p.m. - RECALL THIS!

WISN reports that citizen groups are organizing a recall effort against Democratic Senators.

Two citizen groups are taking the first steps in recalling two Democratic state senators in hiding.

A group of citizens in Kenosha plans to file paperwork Monday to form an exploratory committee to recall State Sen. Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie.

Another group is doing the same for State Sen. Jim Holperin of Conover. Wirch and Conover are among the 14 state senators who left the state Thursday to avoid voting on Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill.


Erica Pelzek reports that Democrat Assembly legislators are still discussing the collective bargaining rights issue of the bill and the proposed referral of the bill to the labor committee. Not a single amendment has been voted on--only two have been discussed.


Steve Horn reports that Kenosha City Council has unanimously opposed the governor's budget "repair" bill. A standing room only crowd packed the chamber where the council voted in opposition. Union leaders,city employees and especially teachers spoke emotionally about that they would lose, financially and in bargaining rights, should the governor's proposal pass. "By passing this bill in Madison, we move backward. We move backward in the state; we move backward as working people," said Jeff Weidner, president of the firefighters union in Kenosha. "We're public servants, not public enemies, and I will work very hard to represent my membership," he said. "I would ask for, and I would hope to see, you pass this resolution tonight." Weidner and the two dozen firefighters who surrounded him at the microphone would be exempted by Walker's cutbacks, but Weidner said he had been to Madison daily, driving back every night since the protest started. Municipal employees were there for us ... during perhaps the worst snowstorm in 40 years, said Alderman Orth. "They are willing to work for us and we are willing to work with them, for them."


From Lisa Graves:

Rick Scott (FL): "My belief is as long as people know what they're doing, collective bargaining is fine." From Talking Points Memo.

Tom Corbitt (PA): "We'll begin negotiations with the public-sector unions and anticipate we'll conduct those in good faith." From Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Mitch Daniels (IN): "I'm not sending the state police after anybody. I'm not gonna divert a single trooper from their job of protection the Indiana public. I trust that people's consciences will bring them back to work. ... For reasons I've explained more than once I thought there was a better time and place to have this very important and legitimate issue raised."

"I'll also say I think it would have the potential -- just tactically -- to possibly reduce or wreck the chances for education reform and local government reform and criminal justice reform and the things we have a wonderful chance to do." From OnPolitix.


3:00 p.m. - Erica Pelzek reports that Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, is lambasting the Republican legislators for their support of the Budget Repair Bill, noting that the bill creates a bigger deficit and allows the Wisconsin Department of Administration unilaterally to contract with any company to sell off any Wisconsin coal, power or heating plants, potentially causing enormous job losses in the state.

"If you have the arrogance and the nerve to ignore this many people" it "will come back to bite you," Grigsby declared.

"I expect to be respected and I will be respected," Grigsby continued. "The disrespect that is happening in this building is outrageous," referring to "nasty comments" by Republican legislators and cutting off of Democratic Assembly speakers by Rep. Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, Speaker of the State Assembly.

2:43 p.m. - Erica Pelzek reports that Representative Kessler proposes to refer the bill to the Labor Committee. He says he would be incensed" if he was the Chair of the Labor Committee and the bill hadn't been referred to him.

2:15 p.m. - Erica Pelzek reports from the Assembly that Reps. Danou and Parisi, both Democrats, speak out against the Budget Repair Bill, specifically addressing the collective bargaining rights that would be stripped from public, unionized workers. "Working conditions" is one facet of their jobs workers can collectively bargain for currently, Danou and Parisi pointed out, pointing to the fact that the rights regarding working conditions cover everything from sexual harassment workplace policies to physical environments to machine maintenance to lunch and bathroom breaks.

Parisi and Danou spoke on their experience with women close to them experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace and implored the Assembly to address the collective bargaining rights portion of the bill.

Danou was then reprimanded by the Speaker of the House, Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, for not speaking on the specific amendment on the table.

"This is personal to me. This is bigger than me and this is bigger than anyone else here," Danou said.

Fitzgerald reiterated he believes this discussion would be appropriate only when discussing the bill, not the amendments.

"You know, this is--I'm just quite frankly so flustered to think that we are even considering this," Danou said, referring to stripping collective bargaining rights of working conditions from Wisconsin workers.

Amendments 12 and 13 are being "tabled" behind Amendments 8, 9, 10. You can follow the Assembly actions, and download and read the full text of the amendments to Assembly Bill 11, the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, here.


Amy Goodman will be at the Orpheum Theater on Thursday, February 24, at 7:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m. - Governor Walker signed a bill requiring two-thirds majority vote for income and sales tax increases.

1:30 p.m. - Steve Horn reports that John Nichols, Tammy Baldwin and Jesse Jackson spoke on the Capitol floor at the noon rally today.

1:20 p.m. - Anne Landman has published a new report: Walker's M.O. and Past Privatization Disaster Revealed. Read the full article.


Rachel Maddow files an important report on Scott Walker's previous experience with union-busting and preference for private security firms. Check it out here.

1:15 p.m. - Steve Horn reports that a massive core of students are being mobilized to halt Chancellor Biddy Martin and Governor Walker's plans to cut the University of Wisconsin Madison out of the UW system.


From Mediaite:

The nation is closely eyeing the loud Wisconsin union protests that have pitted workers against the state's Republican governor, Scott Walker– or, as Jon Stewart described him tonight, the "pleasant, casually-dressed man" out to turn the unions into merely "a bunch of people wearing identical t-shirts." On tonight's Daily Show, Stewart tried and failed to see Walker's side of the story, but was far more outraged with comparisons to the Egyptian revolts or 9/11, especially when there's always Charlie Sheen.

Stewart argued that taking away collective bargaining privileges from unions rendered them completely useless– "it's like telling Craigslist 'no adult services'"– and hammered Walker (and his interview on Fox News Sunday) for his uncompromising take on the situation. On the other hand, he wasn't a big fan of the protesters' public relations prowess, as one lady interrupted an uncontroversial question from a CNN reporter to "get all chanty on her"– "Hold on," Stewart joked, "we have a satellite delay to the '60s."

He then took a look at how the media was trying to find a niche for these protests in the current news cycle– namely the comparisons to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, etc. "They are not the same in any fucking way, shape, or form, at all," he corrected a montage of reporters excitedly connecting the dots. Accusing them of trying to attach the protests to "the last story you saw on TV," Stewart did the same with his last story, "the struggles of Charlie Sheen, bravely fighting his addiction."

He concluded with a look at what Fox News was up to– compared, of course, to the opinions on MSNBC. Turns out they are in diametric opposition to each other! And, if you flip the scenarios, they're precisely what the other said about the Tea Party protests last year, leading Stewart to conclude, "the union Wisconsin protest is the bizarro Tea Party."

12:37 p.m. - Steve Horn is live-tweeting from Madison rallies. Follow his updates: @Steve_Horn1022.


Today, Tuesday, February 22, at 3:00 PM CST, Wisconsin firefighters, teachers and nurses will deliver the people's message to Governor Scott Walker, in advance of the governor's address.

Firefighters, nurses and teachers will urge lawmakers to move the state forward by ending the attacks on middle class families and workers' voices. They will also highlight efforts by thousands of neighbors throughout the state who will come together outside of Madison throughout this week.


12:23 p.m. - Erica Pelzek reports that Representative Peter Barca has a motion.

His intention is not to move this motion today. "It's very important that we all reconcile ourselves with what happened Friday because it was unprecedented. It was an outrage. It was a stand on this body and I think we should discuss it." – Referring to session starting early on Friday by Rep. Bill Kramer.

Remove the speaker pro-tem from his elected position.

Yelling, "If there's one more violation of these rules we'll be debating it and we'll be voting on it. We will not stand for this kind of behavior."

"We elect the speaker. We elect the speaker of the pro-tem. They are officers of this body! They are not officers of their party, they are officers of this body. There were four violations of rules in five minutes."

"We will not allow rules to be flagrantly violated."

12:07 p.m. - Erica Pelzek reports that the Assembly session started with a prayer and commending public safety officers who have done a "wonderful job" at keeping the Capitol calm and peaceful and "without incident."

"What a remarkable testament to the people of Wisconsin when you think about that, right?" said Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, Minority Leader, 64th District of Wisconsin State Assembly-- Entire Assembly stands, applauding. Barca is wearing an orange shirt in solidarity with the Democratic Senators. He commends the quality of Wisconsin's public safety officials and encourages another warm round of applause to law enforcement officials around the state.



Diane Palmer of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin joins Laura Flanders with GRITtv to discuss the impact the cuts will have on working families in Wisconsin and around the U.S.


12:06 p.m. - Erica Pelzek reports that DefendWisconsin.org is back up on the Capitol wireless network after being recently blocked.


Jeani Murray reports: Once again Wall Street is passing off blame for their failures onto the backs of working people. This latest example, while being directed by Gov. Walker in Wisconsin and other new leaders, is a direct result of the decline in the stock market and resulting rise in unemployment from the Wall Street downturn in 2007 - 2009. As some would like us to believe, this crisis is NOT a result in a shortfall in employee contributions. A recent report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) explains the situation, goes behind the rhetoric to the facts and places the blame squarely on the backs of Wall Street fat-cats. The recent events in Wisconsin and around the country to cut the hard-earned pensions of working families is merely a political ploy to once again curry favor with the big-monied special interests. Shameful. There is a lot of misinformation and the CEPR report lays out the truth behind the story. Read it here: http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/the-origins-and-severity-of-the-public-pension-crisis

12:02 p.m. - Governor Walker is threatening workers with layoffs as early as next week if the bill is not passed, according to the Wisconsin State Journal

12:00 p.m. - Want to find out about rallies in your area? Wondering about transportation to Madison from your city? Call the Center for Media and Democracy at 608-260-9713 or visit SEIU Wisconsin.

11:00 a.m. - Watch the Wisconsin State Legislature live from Wisconsin Eye.


The West and South wings are being secured for tomorrow's Session. Also the hallway from 4th West to 4th North will remain secure. Only Legislators, staff, and credentialed media will have access to these areas. Legislators or staff can escort constituents they have meetings with to their offices (up to 8 at a time.) Officers will be available to assist with escorting member to and from caucus or elsewhere if needed.

The Assembly galleries will be open to the public. We will be asking people to empty their pockets and will have metal screening set up to enter. People will be admitted 10 at a time. Since this is an added step we plan to open the galleries an hour before Session rather thank 15 minutes. Visitors will be expected to observe the rules of the galleries.

The rules are posted outside the galleries (the following is not allowed: eating, drinking, smoking, loud talking, photography, phone use, laptop use, video camera use, newspapers, wearing of hats, signs, posters, placards, leaning over railings, sitting in aisles or on the floor, standing in aisles, outburstsSecurity tomorrow‐clapping, cheering, etc. and bags or briefcases are not permitted.)

11:15 a.m. - Lisa Graves has published a new report: Koch Denies Interest in No-Bid Deals; Opens New Lobby Shop. Read the full article.

10:30 a.m. - Lisa Graves has published a new report: CMD Denounces Latest Andrew Breitbart Smear Campaign against Groups Challenging the Kochs. Read the full article.


Mary Bottari reports that after the introduction-and ensuing protests—of Wisconsin's controversial Budget Repair Bill, Democratic pollster GQR Research gauged Wisconsin public opinion of the state's new governor Scott Walker between Feb. 16-20. The protesting at the state Capitol began Feb. 15 and came to a head Sat., Feb. 19, with up to 80,000 state workers rallying at the Capitol. According to the AFL-CIO coordinated poll, only 39 percent of Wisconsinites polled had a "favorable view of Walker, while 49 percent had an unfavorable view of the freshman Republican governor."

More notably, perhaps, is that in the GQR polls taken Feb. 16-20, 62 percent said they viewed public workers in a positive light, while 11 percent reported viewing public workers negatively.


  • 7:15 a.m. rally with Jessie Jackson and the students and East High School who are returning to school today (First and E. Washington)
  • 11:00 a.m. - Assembly in, expected to vote on a stripped down version of the bill. In a move meant to lure boycotting opposition senators back to Wisconsin, the Republican leader of the state Senate threatened Monday to force a vote soon on a bill that is hated by Democrats requiring people to show an ID at the polls.
  • 12:00 noon - Rally at the Capitol
  • 5:00 p.m. - Rally at the Capitol
  • 6:00 p.m. - Governor Scott Walker gives fireside chat. Perhaps the firefighters could respond to this one.


SUPPORT SHOWN FOR MISSING LAWMAKERS: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that About 12,000 donors have given more than $300,000 in recent days to the State Senate Democratic Committee via ActBlue.com, a national website that funnels money from various sources for Democratic causes. On Monday afternoon, ActBlue was passing along more than 200 donations an hour to Wisconsin's Senate Democrats.

BAIT AND SWITCH? Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reports that Senate Republicans will attempt to lure boycotting opposition senators back to Wisconsin, the Republican leader of the state Senate threatened Monday to force a vote soon on a bill that is abhorred by Democrats: requiring people to show an ID at the polls. Meanwhile, the National Guard has toured at least one state prison - presumably in preparation for taking over if needed.

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO CALL? The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the Legislative Hotline for the Wisconsin State Legislature has been temporarily disconnected due to a flood of telephone calls. The line was disconnected Friday afternoon, according to the Assembly Chief Clerk's office, and will be reconnected at a future date. People can still call their legislator directly.

FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE TEACHERS, NOW THE DOCTORS: The Capital Times is reporting that the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and the UW Medical Foundation are launching an investigation into reports that some UW Health physicians were signing "medical excuse" notes for protesters around the Capitol Square over the weekend.

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