Wisconsin

Koch Lobbying Office Draws Protest; Building Employees Gawk From Windows

Protesters clamor around the doorway of 10 E. Doty St.5:15 p.m. - Cars, SUVs and buses whoosh down Madison's King Street Thursday afternoon, honking, windows rolled down, thumbs up in solidarity as neon-vested police officers direct traffic.

"Stay strong!" shouted a man out the driver's-side window of a State Employee Vanpool van. A Madison Metro bus driver drives by, honking and cheering.

Employees in the office building, surely distracted by the protesters' drumming, peer down at the rally.Hundreds of protesters marched from the Capitol Square at 4 p.m. to 10 E. Doty St.'s glass-windowed office building, on the seventh floor of which The Capital Times revealed that Koch Industries opened a lobbying office in late October. Koch's PAC was one of the largest donors to Walker's political campaign, and multi-billionaire, David Koch, has bankrolled groups that ran expensive ad campaigns last year that helped him win the governorship.

CMD Director Lisa Graves on Democracy Now

The Center for Media and Democracy's Executive Director Lisa Graves appeared on Democracy Now to discuss the financial and political links between embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the industrial billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch. "This is a situation in which a billionaire is exerting extraordinary influence, far more influence than tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents who have come out to protest his outrageous effort to destroy the unions here," Lisa said. She reminded viewers of the history of the Koch family and their political activities in the U.S.: "David Koch's father was a co-founder of the radical 1950s group the John Birch Society which opposed civil rights laws," Lisa stated. David Koch ran for president once back in 1982 on the Libertarian ticket, on a campaign platform much farther to the right than Ronald Reagan, in which he opposed Social Security, the minimum wage and other safety-net programs. After he lost that race, he spent the next 30 years forming a series of groups to advance his agenda of far right-wing positions. You can watch the entire video of the interview here.

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CMD Submits Open Records Requests to Governor's Office

Before news broke of the prank call from a David Koch impersonator to Governor Walker's office, CMD had submitted the below open records request to the Wisconsin Department of Administration for all phone calls to-and-from the governor's office since January 1. CMD confirmed receipt of the request via telephone on February 18 and expects a reply promptly. We have also submitted open records requests directly to the governor's office for copies of all email and visitor log records.

Wisconsin Protests, Thursday, February 24, 2011

5:16 p.m. - Brendan Fischer reports that the rally has a bigger showing than past days with international representation.

Highsticked by Walker and I'm mad5:15 p.m. - KOCH LOBBYING OFFICE DRAWS PROTEST; BUILDING EMPLOYEES GAWK FROM WINDOWS

Erica Pelzek reports:

Cars, SUVs and buses whoosh down Madison's King Street Thursday afternoon, honking, windows rolled down, thumbs up in solidarity as neon-vested police officers direct traffic.

"Stay strong!" shouted a man out the driver's-side window of a State Employee Vanpool van. A Madison Metro bus driver drives by, honking and cheering.

Bargaining Rights and State Deficit Size are Unrelated

Data gathered by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows no direct correlation between the size of a state's budget deficit and whether a state has collective bargaining or not. Wisconsin is projected to have a 2012 fiscal year budget deficit of 12.8 percent, but North Carolina, which is non-unionized and prohibits government employees from bargaining, has a significantly higher deficit of 20 percent. The state of Ohio, whose Republican governor, like Scott Walker of Wisconsin, is also pushing to curtail collective bargaining rights, faces a deficit half the size of North Carolina's. This shows that collective bargaining is unrelated to the size of a state's budget deficit. Rather, the size of a state's deficit is the result of the relative impact of the recession within that given state. What these Republican governors have failed to explain is how curtailing collective bargaining rights will create good jobs in the private sector or improve the lot of the struggling middle class -- the main concerns of citizens at the moment.

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BREAKING NEWS on the Koch Brothers and Scott Walker

KochWalkerPhoneToday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, believing he was talking to prominent financial backer David Koch, told a Buffalo, New York blogger that he was getting ready to issue pink slips to state workers in a strategy to force Democratic state senators back to work. In the short interview posted on YouTube and discussed at length by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, there is a wealth of news. Click here to listen in and tell us what you think. The embarrassing revelations prompted Walker to cancel a 2:30 p.m. press conference today.

General Strike Looms if Walker Signs Union-Busting Bill

On-strikeWisconsin's South Central Federation of Labor is getting ready to call a general strike if the state's legislature passes Governor Scott Walker's bill to curtail collective bargaining rights. The Federation, which represents 97 unions and more than 45,000 workers in six counties, on Monday voted to endorse work shut-downs by both union and non-union workers around the country if the bill passes and the governor signs it. Federation delegates say they will strike even if unions elsewhere around the state or the country don't. The potential strike would affect government administrative offices, construction sites, schools and private businesses, but critical life-and-death services would be spared. University of Chicago law professor Richard A. Epstein, who has written extensively on labor and government issues, says there is a strong possibility of a major strike, since national leaders know that if they lose the battle over bargaining rights in Wisconsin, the same rights will fall in other states as well. Paul Secunda, a Marquette University professor who studies labor law, agreed that a general strike may be inevitable. "The ultimate power that employees have at the end of the day is to withhold their labor. This would be the ultimate trump card that unions could pull out, and it will be extremely powerful," Secunda said.

Should Public Sector Unions Exist?

Governor Scott Walker's budget repair bill effectively dismantles over 50 years of public sector collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin. While bill supporters have obscured the reasons that hundreds of thousands have been protesting (acting as if the controversy is really about pension and healthcare contributions rather than union-busting, and claiming the fiscal gaps exacerbated by Walker's tax cuts leave the state with no choice but to crush unions), others recognize the attack on collective bargaining rights but nonetheless support it as applied to taxpayer-funded public servants. Should public sector workers be allowed to organize?

Wisconsin Protests, Wednesday, February 23, 2011

6:57 p.m. - WI SENATE DEMS JOIN PROGRESSIVES IN SOLIDARITY CALL WEDNESDAY

Erica Pelzek reports:

Voicing support for Wisconsin workers and imploring Gov. Scott Walker to compromise on the budget repair bill, Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona and Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee joined other progressives on a Progressive Change Campaign Committee radio segment Wednesday afternoon.

Adam Green of PCCC led the discussion, which included U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona.

Both Grijalva and Ellison rallied with the Wisconsin state Senators, with Ellison calling Walker's unwillingness to compromise and his proposed budget repair bill "extreme, radical and reckless—and he's going to fail!"

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