Celebrating our Freedom: the video everyone in Wisconsin needs to see this Memorial Day weekend

This Memorial Day weekend, please take the time to reflect on the voices of these everyday Wisconsinites, who share their experiences on what freedom and democracy mean to Wisconsin right now.

This video contains personal stories on  issues that matter to all of us - education, health care, the economy, and - most of all - the divide and conquer politics that have pulled families apart, damaged our teachers and our schools, and threaten our military families and veterans.  These are regular people from all walks of life who give us a chance to see past the hype and propaganda of political ads and into the real impacts and real issues confronting our communities.

Please take the time to watch, then share this video with your friends, as you reflect on the sacrifices of those who have served our country this weekend.  What can you do to preserve and celebrates the freedoms they fought to defend?  One thing:  Vote.  June 5.

This video was made by ordinary people, members of our community who want to share their voices and make sure they're heard even as regular people are being shouted down and ignored by the infinite spending on political ads. The video will be aired on our local cable station, one of the last remaining public outlets for citizen voices at a time when big money buys the airwaves and corporate power dictates who is heard.  Take the time to listen to our neighbors.  They have so much to say.

Pay Your Share, Wisconsin! (Freedom Isn't Free)

Remember that night in 2010 when all of a sudden it sunk in:  
Russ Feingold is no longer our Senator. Russ Feingold lost the election. Ron Effing Johnson is my Senator now. Scott Walker?! Who voted for that guy? 
Remember that?  Remember thinking "Why the double hockey sticks did I not do more?  What just happened here?"

Well, you're going to feel that way times a million if you don't help GOTV on this election.  Hundreds of thousands of us stood in solidarity in the snow to bring our grievances and outrage to the public eye. Tens of thousands of us collected signatures in the freezing cold and biting wind to set right this wrong.  ALL OF US need to do our part now to ensure that every voter in Wisconsin sees past the hype, the lies, and the infinitely-funded campaign ads to what is really at stake in this election.  It's time to help. It's time to pay your share.

One of the things that stands out in my mind most from the signature collection phase is this kid who used to drive past our regular site on the town square in Sun Prairie every day after high school let out, in his parents' fancy car.  He'd roll down the window and shout "PAY YOUR SHARE! PAY YOUR SHARE! PAY YOUR SHARE!"  Every day.  He'd shout this, from the warm comfort of a car he didn't pay for, to men and women who were standing on the side of the street volunteering their time between shifts, before or after work, or in their retirement.  People who were providing a public service to our community by allowing a forum for expression of our legal and constitutional right to seek redress for the grievances we hold against a corrupt administration which betrays the interests of the people for a corporatist agenda bought and paid for by out-of-state agents.

My friend Maegen reminding us our "last chance" is now.
Who, exactly, were these local citizens he was telling to "pay their share?"  Who were these members of our community this kid's parents had taught him to hate so much that he felt entitled to disrespect them on the public square?  These people he obviously thought were greedy freeloaders motivated by nothing more than greed and an absurd desire for "handouts?"
  • Taxpayers, from all walks of life.  Some union, some not. Some so well-off that they were able to contribute generously to our entirely grassroots-funded office.  Some so staggered by cuts to their income under Walker's administration that they faced bankruptcy and foreclosure. 
  • A retired teacher who'd put in nearly 40 years in our schools and knows this community as well as anyone in town and is fighting daily to preserve the civility and integrity that is at the heart of the Wisconsin Idea.  And other educators, both working and retired, who committed their whole lives to his own education. 
  • A scientist who refuses to let an agenda of hypocritical dogma govern the content of her children's education as they're just entering our public schools. 
  • A small-business owner who home schools her children and is fighting to protect equal rights for women that have been under attack by Walker since day one.
  • A retired union laborer who worked that location nearly every day, in every type of weather until a brain tumor stopped him from volunteering. The day before his surgery, he told us at the hospital that he hoped to return before the last day of signature collection so he could help more.
  • A young private sector worker who feels so strongly about the threats to clean and open government that he has volunteered nearly daily before going to his third-shift job, often sleeping just a few hours between work shifts and volunteer shifts.
  • A retired non-union employee who chose to spend the cold winter fighting for democracy in Wisconsin while her ailing husband spent it in Florida on doctor's orders so that she could do the volunteering her adult children couldn't do while working full-time.
  • Parents of kids in our public schools who are fighting both to protect the funding and programming that keeps our schools great and to defend our excellent teachers against the unconscionable attacks on their character and work.  Parents who want their kids to get a decent education and have a chance at a career in a job that gives them dignity, satisfaction, and fair pay.
  • Employees of local small businesses who know that their employers won't be able to compete with the big-box corporate favorites that Walker and his allies are trying to sell out our communities to.
  • And more. The list of people who have paid - and continue to pay - their share (in both time and taxes) goes on and on.  These are the people who live here. Our friends and neighbors. They are the people who make our community a decent place to live. People who believe that living a decent life is worth fighting for.  People who have taught me, personally, how true it is that it really does take a village to make things happen, and that community-building is as easy as opening your mind and sharing your voice with your neighbors. People who have taught me what it really means to pay your share.
So when this kid shouted at our volunteers, with such hate in his voice and such an ignorant, blind, and toxic message, all I could think was: this IS how we're paying our sharing.  In addition to paying in taxes, time, and money, we are paying our share in moving Wisconsin forward by sending a message not just to our fellow Wisconsinites but the entire nation, and the world: we will not sit by as you sell us out to the highest bidder. We will not betray our children, our elders, our disabled friends, our co-workers. We will not sit by and watch this happen. We will stand up and pay our share in hours, in shifts of standing in the freezing cold with hand-warmers shoved in our boots and pockets. We paid our share by making phone calls, holding signs, sharing news and information with whomever we could.  We have paid our share in sweat and tears and anger and frustration and we have been rewarded by the security of knowing that we are on the side of justice.  We have followed the letter of the law at every step to exercise our legal right to recall this Governor, his yessir! lieutenant, and the Senators whose abuses of power and contempt for public input shame us all.

Here in my town, we have been paying our share all year.  And we will continue to do so in every moment we can until June 5.  All across the state, other grassroots teams have been doing the same thing.  Volunteering. Educating. Contributing.  Doing what needs to be done.

But with 12 days to go, it's not enough to count on all these people, who are already doing as much as they possibly can, to do it all.  We need everyone.

Everyone who signed the petition to recall Walker.
Everyone who thinks workers' rights are human rights.
Everyone who thinks education is more important than profits.
Everyone who thinks our tradition of stewardship means we should preserve our air, our water, our public hunting grounds, for future generations.
Everyone who thinks government should be open, and that citizen input should matter.
Everyone who believes in the true value of civility and the power of the Wisconsin Idea.

We need everyone.

Please do your share.  We are counting on you.

Vote early or vote June 5.

Volunteer.  Sign up today to do your part in getting out the vote.

We need to knock on every door. We need to make sure every voter knows how much is at stake in this election:  It's not about politics. It's not about money. It's about preserving the integrity of our traditions, clean and open government by the people, and the civility that makes it possible to live together no matter how much we may disagree on points of policy.  It's about democracy.  It's about stopping the "divide and conquer" politics that have made it possible - acceptable, even - for a teenage boy to shout hate and disrespect out the window of his car at people who are just exercising their civil rights. It's about moving forward and restoring the civility we once cherished.

Be the change the matters.
There will not be another time to act.
The time is now.

Pay your share.

Because freedom isn't free, you know. It took the tea party ways of Scott Walker & Co to make us realize exactly how true that is.

Please. Pay your share.

Vote Early to Recall Walker! Now through June 1st

A friend who is very active in the recall and prefers to remain anonymous sent me these tips, which I am happy to pass on.  She encourages us to get involved and early vote - two things I have already done and encourage you to do as well!  Early voting reduces long lines at the polls - and turnout is expected to be huge on June 5th - but it also gives those who might otherwise be less likely to vote a chance to make sure they do. Drive a friend to the polls. Find a senior who needs a ride and save them the wait in line.  Contact your friends and neighbors and make sure you all vote early.  Bonus: then you're freed up to volunteer and GOTV on election day!

Hi Heather,

I saw your great blog on the 5 actions to recall Walker - it was great!
I voted yesterday at the early vote rally with Russ Feingold. My personal culmination of 16 months of outrage and hard work (though there's 2 weeks of hard work left to go) - it was very emotional. I almost got teary and was wishing that I had brought my son along with me to make a family memory of this important event. I am thinking we should promote the heck out of early voting: No need to wait! Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your neighbors and do your civic duty by kicking Walker's butt out of office (also Kleefisch and 4 Republican Senators voting lockstep with Walker)!

The recall information is coming fast and furious these days. Thank you for your valuable part in getting the word out! Below is some key info I have been sharing - please distribute whatever you find useful:
1) A list of Barrett for Wisconsin field offices - we are asking people to volunteer, volunteer, volunteer, especially for the Get Out The Vote drives Sat June 2nd through election day Tuesday June 5th.2) Early voting started Monday May 21st and goes through Friday June 1st at municipal clerk's offices. Please bring friends, family, and friendly acquaintances to vote early, especially seniors and other people who may have a hard time getting to the polls or to their municipal clerk's office. Find out city clerk's office locations for early voting or for sending absentee ballots, etc. - the list is alphabetical by county.  Click here for a great, general guide to voting rights from the ACLU.
3) Extended early voting hours - even on this weekend and Memorial Day morning - a good option for people who cannot get off from work - to vote
in Madison and Milwaukee. Flyers for these extended hours are attached. People cannot vote on the weekend or Monday before the election (Shameful voter suppression) because that part of the Voter ID Law is still in effect.
4) In Madison, Union Cab (608-242-2000) is giving free rides to voters going to the polls. I don't know if cab companies or bus companies from other cities are doing this but it wouldn't hurt to ask.

A great one pager on voting info from Wisconsin League of Women Voters and ACLU that emphasizes that photo ID is NOT needed for June 5 is given in the following links - English and Spanish. The pdf English version is also attached. For overall voter basics, the http://www.ownyourvotewi.com/ site is the place to go.

Lilly Ledbetter (plaintiff in the equal pay for women Supreme Court case that led to the law that Obama signed early in his administration) will be visiting the Madison Bassett Street office this Wednesday, May 23, at 4:15 p.m. and we ask volunteers who would like to meet her to be at 210 North Bassett Street by 4 pm. The timing works out well for those attending the early vote rally on the Square at 5 pm with Mahlon Mitchell and Jon Erpenbach.

There are multiple early vote rallies planned throughout the state. I know you are closest to Madison, but please share the latest confirmed information below with your contacts who are in other parts of the state. There are some others in the works as well!

Thanks so much for everything you do! Together we will get this job done.

Statewide early voting events:

Thursday May 24- Wausau @noon 
400 Block- Downtown Wausau

Special Guests Former Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, Rep. Donna Seidel and Pat Kreitlow (Candidate for Congress)

Early voting afterwards at City Clerk's office 407 Grant St. Wausau, WI 54403

Thursday May 24- Racine @noon
George Bray Center 924 Center St.

Special Guests Mahlon Mitchell, John Lehman

Early voting afterwards 730 Washington Ave. Racine 53403

Thursday May 24- Beloit @noon
Field office 314 State St.

Special Guests Judy Robson, Rep. Janis Ringhand

Early voting afterwards 100 State St. Beloit, WI 53511

Saturday May 26- Madison @11:30

30 Rotary Plaza 100 N. Hamilton next to Children's Museum

With Special Guests Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Sen. Mark Miller

Early Voting afterward at City-County Bldg. 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Madison 53703

Wednesday May 30- Superior @noon

Field office 1810 Belknap St Superior, WI 54480

With Special Guests Sen. Bob Jauch and Rep. Nick Milroy

Early Voting afterward at City Clerk's office 1316 N. 14th St. Room 200 Superior, WI

Wednesday May 30- Stevens Point @noon

Pfiffner Park near bandshell 2442 Sims Ave Stevens Point 54481

Special Guest- Former Lt. Gov Barbara Lawton

Early voting at 1515 Strongs Ave. Stevens Point 54481

Wednesday May 30- Janesville @noon

Field office 111 W. Milwaukee St.

Special Guest- Sen. Tim Cullen

Early voting at 18 N. Jackson Janesville, WI 53548

Wednesday May 30- Appleton  @noon

City Park 500 E. Franklin

Special Guest- Rep. Penny Bernard-Schaber

Early voting at 100 N. Appleton St. Appleton, WI 54911

Thursday May 31- Milwaukee  @noon

Cathedral Square corner of Wells and Jackson

Special Guest- Mahlon Mitchell

Early voting at Milwaukee Municipal Building 841 N. Broadway Room 102 Milwaukee 53202

How To Recall Walker: 5 easy things you can do to restore Democracy

Dear friends,

Many people have asked how they can best get involved in the effort to get out the vote to recall Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch on June 5, and don't know where to get started or what kinds of actions are best.  There are loads of things you can do, depending on how much time you have, what you like to do, and your comfort level.  The only thing that's not an option here is doing nothing.  Since Scott Walker has been in power, he has attempted at every turn to silence, disregard and disrespect the constituents of this state, and has violated the demands of democracy by choosing to "govern" through corruption, nepotism, and cronyism which betrays the interests of the people for the interests of the shareholders in his administration. The time has come for us to exercise our legal right to recall him. And people are asking me: How?  What is the best use of my time in these last few weeks to get out the vote?  Here's my best advice:
  1. Connect. Find existing groups and get involved.  You are not alone and you don't need to go lone wolf or reinvent the wheel here. There is a lot you can do if you connect with these teams!
    1. The WisDems and OFA (Organizing for America) have joined forces as the Barrett Field Team in Wisconsin and are working on a massive canvassing effort to get out the vote. They have walklists of carefully selected households that will be likely to vote for Tom Barrett and need reminding. You can find the closest local field office here: http://www.wisdems.org/RecallHQ/Offices.
    2. United Wisconsin is working with grassroots teams around the state to get out the vote, spread information, and inform your community. You can volunteer and get literature to pass out, or you can buy yard signs, bumper stickers, etc.  Find your local United Wisconsin county group here to get in touch with the people in your area.
    3. We Are Wisconsin is doing a fantastic job of reaching out to local communities. They have organized a Relational Voter Program that helps you stay in touch with a manageable list of friends and neighbors to make sure they don't forget to vote. And they have field offices all over the state where you can volunteer to distribute literature, go door to door, or make phone calls. Find one here: http://www.wearewisconsin.org/volunteer/.
    4. Support the efforts of your local union. If you're a union member, or support labor, contact your union to see what local people are doing to help. Don't just ignore all those emails and mailings - they have important contact info for ways you can get involved!  There are many volunteer opportunities with the major unions like AFL-CIO and AFSCME. And WEAC members can join postcard parties, help GOTV and do many other things to help protect education and workers' rights in Wisconsin.
  2. Talk to your own friends and neighbors. Nothing is more effective than direct communication with someone you know.  Tell them why you are voting to recall Walker and encourage them to do the same.  Send them an email. Make phone calls. Use social media.  And visit http://www.iverifytherecall.com/GovWalker.aspx (those teabaggers helped us more than they'll ever know!) to type in your street name (leave out the "street" or "drive" part for maximum results) and your zip code to get the list of everyone on your street who signed the petition then stop by and remind them to vote on June 5. I typed in my street info and found 72 people on my street who'd signed - 8 pages of results! Not only will you feel less alone, but you'll make local connections you didn't know existed!  For more tips on how you can act locally on your own, check out these great suggestions from Sara Johann!
  3. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Everyone in Wisconsin knows that local media usually has an admittedly conservative bias, and many local papers only provide a counter to that perspective through their "mail bag" sections.  Let your community know where you stand by sharing your reasons why Walker needs to be recalled. Short, pointed letters are effective and persuasive.  Find a list of local papers in the details of our Open Letter Challenge.
  4. Get the message out.  Shockingly, many people still really think this election is just about collective bargaining. We can only fight that messaging by getting out the truth. Put up a yard sign (you can buy one from any of the groups above) or make your own.  If there's one thing this movement has made famous, it's Wisconsin's creative and enterprising spirit and brilliance of expression.  Coordinate a Grassroots TV Wisconsin project in your community - make message signs to put up around town with rotating "topics" to inform people who don't normally follow politics or the news.  Stage a "Why we need to recall Walker" sign-holding event on a busy street in your community.  Create a "moving billboard" out of your car. Click here for instructions on how to complete these project and click here and here for examples of the signs in action. Note: Be sure to put "paid for by....[your name or your group]" on the signs and to only put them on private property, with permission - see here for info on the legality of signage near highways and check your municipality if you have questions about local ordinances.  For most places, the rule is that it can't be on public property or the easement and has to be at least 6 feet from the road.
  5. VOTE.  This is the most important action of all. None of the rest matters if we all don't vote. If we vote, we win. And if we don't vote, we give up our right to complain.  We have worked so hard, for so long, to expose the corruptions and abuses of power of this administration, and our moment of justice depends entirely on our faith in democracy and our participation in the process we have fought so hard to protect.  The polls will be open from 7am to 8pm on election day, June 5, 2012, and early absentee voting can be done by mail or in person at your City Clerk's office from Monday, May 21 to 5pm on Friday, June 1 (if you want to go one step further, you can volunteer (or get paid) to work at the polls or serve as an election observer to ensure integrity of the election process - they need lots of help with this all over the state!).  If you're not registered to vote, you can register at the polls, but be sure to bring proof of residency - and remember you need to have lived at your current address for at least 28 days. If you've recently moved you need to vote at your old polling place, or absentee.  But whatever else you do, make time to vote.  And if each of us brings just one other person to the polls, we have already won.  Data shows that when Dems get out the vote, they win.    
Never has it been more important to send a message that democracy is not for sale. This entire movement has been organized around our faith in this process - don't let the hard work of so many tens of thousands of volunteers, and the signatures of 1,000,000 of your fellow citizens have been for nothing. This is a battle that can and must be won at the ballot box, and I will see you there!

In solidarity,

P.S. UPDATE.  Here's an excellent 6th suggestion from Ted Quincey, who offers this Challenge:
I am issuing a personal challenge to each and every one of you!

If you accept the challenge, you must agree to these terms:
1) I shall vote in the recall election.
2) I shall make every effort to vote absentee right away (starting May 21).
3) I shall confirm at least 10 people I know have voted, whether absentee or on election day.
4) I shall contact as many people as I can to issue the same challenge to them.
5) I shall be persistent, and make sure people understand how important it is to vote.

Scott Walker is counting on his virtually unlimited supply of mostly out-of-state money to drown out the voices of the People of Wisconsin. The best way to counter his campaign is to reach out to the people you already know. Talk to them about what has been happening in Wisconsin and how important it is to restore our democracy, but most importantly ENCOURAGE THEM TO VOTE! The results on June 5 will depend in large part on voter turnout, so make sure you have done everything in your power to convince the people you know to get involved! If enough of us do this, we CAN overcome the tens of millions of dollars being spent to keep Walker in office.

Now is NOT the time to say, "I hope somebody will do something to make this campaign a success."

Now is the time to BE that somebody, and to do everything in your power to make it happen!

So, are you up to the challenge?

Volunteer Opportunities
United Wisconsin http://www.unitedwisconsin.com/
Democratic Party of Wisconsin http://www.wisdems.org/

Government Accountability Board: http://gab.wi.gov/

List of contact information for all Wisconsin Municipal Clerks (sorted by county)

17 days left to close the deal!



Susan Shoemaker: Walker's lies about "savings" can't save him from recall

Susan Shoemaker took the MoD Open Letter Challenge and let Walker know why she thinks he should be recalled. Send your letters in today - contacts for local papers are in the challenge details!

Dear Scotty,

As a voter and taxpayer, I get thoroughly disgusted when my Governor lies to me

Not just once, but day, after day, after day. You need to stop.

For example, on Monday, May 14, 2012, you issued an official press release (http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=269785) claiming your reforms saved a small family business, "Vic’s Carpet and Flooring," $3,000 in property taxes. The only problem is: it's not true. You lied.

1. The property is owned by an investment company.

2. The tax bill went down because the assessed value of the $1 million dollar property went down almost 25%.

3. You also repeated your lie that "without Governor Walker’s reforms, the average homeowner would have paid an additional $700 over two years." (http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/jul/18/scott-walker/gov-scott-walker-says-average-property-tax-payer-w/)

I checked the property tax records - you should have too. You had nothing to do with the lower property taxes - the drop was due completely to the decrease in assessed value. If the value had stayed the same - the tax bill actually would have gone up!

Truth here: http://tax.waukeshacounty.gov/DisplayTax.aspx (look at 2010 and 2011 tax bills for tax key # OCLV0585973006)

Confirm you will stop lying and will issue an apology to the public.

Susan Shoemaker

Callen Harty: Walker recall is not a referendum on collective bargaining

Callen Harty posted the following open letter, A Reply to Scott Walker, in response to a letter he received in the mail from the Walker campaign, asking "for a donation to help him defend himself against attacks from the left and the unions." Callen writes: "This is the letter I am sending out to him tomorrow (and he gets to pay the postage)."

This letter sums up so much about what is wrong with the way Walker has deceived us to the very end, and I'm honored to share it here with Callen's permission.   This is his second guestpost on MoD. The first, an open letter to Scott Fitzgerald, is worth reviewing as Fitz faces his own recall on June 5th. Please be sure to check out the original post on his wonderful blog, A Single Bluebird.

And with just 2 short weeks to go before the recall election, I encourage all of you to share your thoughts with your local papers, or send to me and I will post on the blog. Take the MoD Open Letter Challenge and speak up now against Walker's unjust, unfair and unethical governance or forever wish you had. 

May 16, 2012

Dear Governor Walker,

Thank you for your personal letter to me asking me to donate money toward your goal of $400,000.00 to help defeat Tom Barrett in the upcoming recall election.  I will tell you first of all that I am an independent voter and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past, among others.  I must also tell you that I’m afraid I’m not rich enough to be one of your donors, and neither are most of the Wisconsinites I know, many of whom are suffering under the policies you have pushed through in the last year.  But even if I could afford it I would more likely donate it to a candidate who shows a little more fiscal responsibility than what your campaign has shown.

You say in your letter that the opposition is raising money in breathtaking amounts.  Yet all of the news media, liberal and conservative, has repeatedly reported that you are raising far more money than Tom Barrett and the Democrats.  You have raised more than $25 million dollars already, two-thirds of it from out-of-state donors, and I’m guessing they might be expecting something in return.  Most of that money was raised in the last half-year and most of it came from a handful of very wealthy benefactors.  Have you spent all that money already?  Are they okay with that?  How could you possibly need almost half a million dollars more?  Clearly, if you are running the state of Wisconsin the way you are running this campaign I can see why we are in so much economic trouble here.

Let me be clear about this:  I am not a huge fan of either the Republicans or Democrats, but I do not believe you when you say that the “Liberal Democrats” bent to the will of big labor leaders in Chicago and Washington.  I believe that the Democratic Party tends to be the party of the working class more than the Republican Party does, so yes, they may have supported legislation that labor may have liked.  But labor is not about union bosses—it is about the common man or woman working the assembly line or teaching or laying bricks for a living.  If the Democrats pass laws that support working class people, then I am for them.  My grandfather was a miner, my father a painter.  I come from working class people and although I have never belonged to a union I believe in the dignity of our working class and poverty-stricken citizens.  Nobody deserves to be disregarded or discarded.

In your letter you say that with “clenched fists, obscene signs, screaming chants and un-Wisconsin-like tactics, I’m being attacked with a ferocity that Wisconsinites have never seen before.”  I have been at the Capitol during the peaceful protests this past year.  I have seen thousands of people behaving well and letting their feelings be heard.  I have also seen people yelling “Shame” and other things at you and some of your legislative allies.  It is because the people of this state feel that you have attacked them with a ferocity that is un-Wisconsin-like.  Never before have we seen so much disregard for openness, so much bullying in the Capitol chambers, such rude dismissal of the other side of the aisle as we have seen under your leadership and that of the Fitzgerald brothers.  You “dropped the bomb”, you tried to “divide and conquer”, but what you did was awaken a sleeping giant.  You have united people in a way that the Democrats have never been able to do.  Yes, the people are angry at you.  They have every right to be.

The “Madison Liberals” and “Union Bosses” you speak of may be trying to make an example of you as you assert.  It is their right politically.  But for regular Wisconsinites like me this election isn’t about the unions.  Yes, I am incredibly unhappy with what you did to collective bargaining, but even moreso at the way you did it.  I am also unhappy to see my niece and her family taken off of BadgerCare because of your cuts.  I am unhappy to see what used to be the finest educational system in the country gutted because of your priorities.  When corporations are owners of our school systems and making profits off of it instead of cities and towns having local control the people of Wisconsin will see what they have given up.  I am unhappy about your horrible record on environmental issues, the incredible loss of jobs we have seen, your attacks on Planned Parenthood, your positions on LGBT issues, and more.  This election is not a referendum on collective bargaining.  It is a referendum on the totality of your short tenure.

Earlier today you released a revised set of job numbers.  You say that Wisconsin is heading in the right direction.  If backwards and downwards are the right direction then I guess we are doing fine.  Every state in the union—including Wisconsin until the numbers showed us losing more jobs than any other state in the country—has used the same set of Department of Labor statistics to show job growth or loss.  But today you released numbers showing we’ve gained 23,000 jobs (which, even if it were true, is not even 10% of what you promised us).  It is not only disingenuous, it is a lie.  The people of the state are losing jobs and suffering under your budget cuts.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs and no other state lost more than 3,500 between March of 2011 and March of 2012.  45 of the states gained jobs or stayed even in that same span.  Is the federal government in collusion with “Liberal Democrats” and “Big Union Bosses”?  How else could they come up with such numbers when you can come up with just the opposite?  Simply put, Wisconsin is not open for business.  It is open for businesses, for corporate benefactors who stand to gain from your giveaways to them and takeaways from the people who live here.

I will not be sending you a donation and I will not be voting for you.  I am confident that you will not see this letter, because you have yet to listen to regular Wisconsinites the way you listen to out-of-state millionaires and billionaires.  I wish you well in whatever you pursue after the governorship, but I hope with everything that is within me that your new career path will start in the next few weeks.

Why the Recall Primary Matters: Vote Tuesday May 8

Vote for the person you want to be governor. Not some other person.
Dear friends of MoD,

Tomorrow, we decide who faces Scott Walker in the recall election on June 5 (or if he moves on at all).  We also decide who faces Rebecca Kleefisch (Mahlon Mitchell!). And Scott Fitzgerald (Lori Compas!). And Van Wanggaard (John Lehman!). And Terry Moulton (Kristen Dexter!). And Jerry Petrowski, the Republican running for Pam Galloway's seat after Galloway retired (Donna Seidel!).  Click here to see the official GAB ballots to find out who's running in your district.

In each of these races, there are fake Democrats on the ballot in an an attempt to subvert democracy and spoil the election process.  Fake Dem Gladys Huber even gets top billing on the gubernatorial ticket.

It's been a long, exhausting road to this day and this is the beginning of our final push to get out the vote and make sure that every person in Wisconsin realizes what is really at stake in this election.  (Spoiler alert! It's not about collective bargaining!)

You have an obligation to be part of the solution. Voting is not optional. 

Vote for Mahlon Mitchell.
Even if you are on the fence (as I was until I voted early last week) about the gubernatorial candidates and just want to support "the winner" of the Dem primary, you need to vote tomorrow for Mahlon Mitchell for Lieutenant Governor. Rebecca "For Real" Kleefisch is NOT on the ballot because no one opposed her as a Republican. This means she will automatically appear on the June 5 ballot and Republicans are "free" to vote for the fake Dem on the ticket, Isaac Weix.  So we need every vote we can get to ensure that this election is not stolen by those who prefer legal election tampering to respecting the will of the people.

And here's the thing: if Mitchell beats Kleefisch but Walker wins in June, Mitchell will be governor when Walker is indicted. So please, please vote.  Because if you don't vote, you can't complain. And we have a lot to complain about.

There are a lot of hard feelings and hot heads over tomorrow's choices. I personally agonized for months over my decision and finally surprised myself at the ballot box and voted for the person I think will be the best governor on education and moving Wisconsin forward again.  I see great strengths (and weaknesses) in all of our choices.  Do any of them inspire me like Russ Feingold would have? No. Does that matter? Not in the least. We did not come all this way to be divided over who opposes Walker on June 5. We did not stand out in the snow collecting signatures to bicker about who is stronger on education or the environment when ANY of these choices is infinitely superior to Scott "Fundraising is Governing" Walker.  

We did not come together for the past year to fall apart now.  Whomever wins tomorrow, we will unite like never before to show the world that Wisconsin did not stand down.  After 17 months of being ignored, insulted and demeaned by the governor of our state, we have pressed on.  Legally. Peacefully. With determination.  We have matched the petulant obstinance of Scott Walker with determination and drive, and we have countered his every attack on the well-being of this state with focus, patience, and the knowledge that we will do what it takes in the final hour to see him out of office. At that final hour starts tomorrow.

Scott Walker sent out a fundraising letter last week telling people all over the country that  
"For the Union-paid protesters who screamed until their faces were red...all I can say is that they can yell and curse all they want but I am not going to back down."
That's right. Over a year later, he is still spreading the same tired, absurd lies about the hard-working taxpayers and public servants of Wisconsin, claiming that "Big Union Bosses" paid people from out of state to protest at the Capitol, that the recall is only about collective bargaining and differences of "opinion."  These lies might trick people in other states into pouring money into his campaign, but they aren't fooling the millions of Wisconsinites who have seen their income and security vanish under his administration.  They aren't fooling the kids asking what happened to all the teachers at their schools who have been forced into early retirement or laid off.  They aren't fooling the 17,000 people - mainly children - about to be kicked off BadgerCare even as their financial situations remain precarious.  And they certainly aren't fooling all of the non-union taxpayers (Republicans and Democrats alike) opposed to Walker's disastrous and divisive policies. Wisconsin leads the nation in job losses and cuts to education under Walker.  That fact didn't make his fundraising letter, as facts tend not to do.  He neglected to mention, for instance, that one of the main ways he stands apart from the other candidates is by being the only candidate with a criminal defense fund.

Walker's administration only points in one direction: backward. If you want to go forward, get to the polls tomorrow.  Vote. And then you can join me in complaining all you want.  I look forward to it.  Very much, in fact.



P.S. Not registered to vote? No problem! You can register at the polls! Just be sure to bring proof of residency (for at least 28 days at your current address). Click here for info from the GAB on what you need to bring with you to register at the polls. And click here to find your voting location!

Open letter from 33-year educator: RECALL WALKER

Educators stand up for our kids, and their rights. Source
Jackie, a central Wisconsin educator, took the MoD Open Letter Challenge to let Wisconsin know how deep Walker's attacks on teachers and education have hurt our state.  This are wounds that can only be healed by removing the man responsible for this cancerous climate that divides the state.  Thank you for sharing, Jackie, and I hope your letter inspires others to speak up and share their thoughts on why Walker has to go.

I have been a teacher for 33 years and continue to love my job. However, what I do not love is being devalued, being forced to take a $5,000 pay cut this year, and looking at another $3,000 cut next year. At a time when I had hoped to be putting aside a good deal of money for retirement, I find that I can barely continue to put aside what I have been doing for years. I worry that when I finally can retire, my pension will no longer be there for me. I will have seen my deferred pay go into an account that will not be there for me or any of my teacher friends.

The damage Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin will take years to repair. The deep political divides in this state will not heal quickly. He has pitted working class against working class, making public school teachers and other public employees somehow synonymous with evil. He has not created jobs as he claimed he would do. He has undermined Badger Care, has worked to harm women, and has lied to the people of our state from the beginning. He continues to lie, and his friends such as the Koch brothers are all too happy to pay to spread these lies.

In order to begin the long road to healing this state, we must take the step of recalling this man whom John Dean recently said is “more Nixonian than Nixon.” We must rid ourselves of this cancer on our state.

Jackie, Central Wisconsin

Wisconsin has Walker to thank for turning would-be teacher into activist

Another fantastic submission to the MoD Open Letter Challenge!

Dear Scott Walker,

I would like to personally thank you for changing my life. Up until about a year ago I was planning on becoming a teacher, but you made me realize that my calling was at a different level. I am now one semester away from receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Women and Gender Studies at Alverno College, which I am sure, has no meaning to you since you neither value women or education. Prior to you, my life plan was to teach English to high school students in MPS, and while I still plan on working with low-income students in some capacity – you know those are the constituents you ignore. I plan on informing high school students about your platform and ethics – and guess what? These students have just turned 18 and are likely more committed to voting than they ever thought they would be, thanks in part to your dismissal of their potential as human beings.

What was I thinking? I don’t want to be a “greedy”  teacher; instead I shall become your adversary. Your lack of ethical regard for women, the poor, and anyone who doesn’t have a lot of money is what drives me. Every morning I wake up and watch the news to see what rhetoric spiel you are promoting and it never fails to inspire me. So just remember that every time you open your mouth and spew your nonsensical gibberish, you inspire me. Just remember that every time you blame others for your failure as leader and unifier you reify me as your opponent. Just remember that every time you make the claim you didn’t raise taxes, I’ll be amending your claim and calling you on your lies. Just remember that my education exceeds yours and that I am on the side of people who have been educated and still choose to work with the less advantaged in order to move Wisconsin FORWARD.

Colleen Crotteau-Martinez

Brad Werntz: Dear Governor Walker: It's A Boy!

My friend Brad Werntz submitted this letter, which he posted on his blog, The Short Menu, as part of the MoD Open Letter Challenge.  In his letter, he reminds the future former Governor of Wisconsin of both the reasons we still need urgently to speak out against his administration and the ways that his policies affect real people in real communities. As a small business owner, Brad makes a powerful case for why Walker's "Open for Business" rhetoric rings hollow when he pits members of our communities against each other, writing "When you claim that you are supporting one at the expense of the other - private businesses at the expense of public infrastructure, "taxpayers" at the expense of public servants - you reveal that you don't understand that all of these things are interlinked."  Thanks to Brad for sharing his letter - I hope it inspires you to write yours!

Dear Governor Walker,

I just thought I'd send you a quick update to the testimony I gave to the Joint Finance Committee at about 1:30am on February 15, 2011. You probably missed it, and - frankly - I'm glad you did.

As a public speaker, I wasn't really at my very best that night. Part of the problem was that I was really angry that you decided to "drop a bomb" on Wisconsin.

Then I spent six straight hours watching Robin Vos act in an utterly condescending and curt manner to everyday Wisconsin citizens. It was obvious in his every movement that the hearing was merely for show, and - in fact - at one point he said just this. It was likely in this same statement that he dismissed everyone waiting to speak as being from out-of-state. 

Then the hearing room doors were shut in our faces.

Then, the first chants broke out in the Capitol, spontaneously, from hundreds of voices: "LET US SPEAK! LET US SPEAK!" 

There were students chanting this - yes - but there were also teachers, retirees, nurses, public workers, scientists, service-providers, artists, and - believe it or not - people who you might call "job creators," or "taxpayers."

You know, the people you claim to cater to when you say "Wisconsin is Open For Business." 

And that was what I was there to tell you: When you dropped your bomb on Wisconsin, you claimed you were doing it for people like me. As a small business owner here in Madison, I wanted you to know that you don't speak for me.

In my big moment before the Joint Finance Committee, I was so angry that I muffed it. But that's okay. We don't have to cover that ground again. I've done so elsewhere, many times.

But there's something I said that night that I haven't repeated, and it's a story about community. Small businesses build community, not just in the dollars they generate but in other ways, too. 

On February 13, 2011, this idea manifested itself literally when a baby girl was born to two people who had fallen in love in the community of my small business. Hers wasn't the first birth from our community, and it definitely wasn't the last. But when I sat down in front of the Joint Finance Committee, this little girl's birth was such a perfect and recent example of how small local business connects people - not just to each other but to the community in which we all live - hers was a story I wanted to tell.

Both her parents once worked at my business, although at different times. Her father worked for us in high school and through college, and eventually became a manager. Her mother worked with autistic children, and ran innovative programs for them at our facility. Before they found one another, both of her parents had dated other people in our community. In fact, her father had been married before, to a friend of her mother's.

And this is where the story - for me - gets very powerful.

You see, the woman this little girl's father married, this friend of her mother's? Well, she died. She was very young, very vivacious, truly a light for all in our circle. 

So this little girl's father faced life without his wife. Her mother went on without her friend. Both grieved, and in their grief they found solace, and eventually love with one another, in the shelter of the small community of our small business here in Madison. Their marriage was a joyous contrast to the funeral we had all attended several years prior.

In sharing this story with you, this is what I wanted you to know, Governor Walker: When you drop bombs on Wisconsin, you drop them on real communities made up of real people. 

We are connected in part by the company we choose, but we are also connected by the hubs that draw us together. These hubs are not just private businesses like mine, but also public schools, community centers, and local greenspaces. When you claim that you are supporting one at the expense of the other - private businesses at the expense of public infrastructure, "taxpayers" at the expense of public servants - you reveal that you don't understand that all of these things are interlinked.

You cannot build up one part of a community by dropping bombs on another part of that same community. 

So, anyway, this is what I wanted to be sure you knew, and it's something I didn't get out during the two minutes I testified before the Joint Finance Committee.

The reason I was reminded of all of this today? Well, that little girl in my story just today got a new sibling, and it's a boy!

I'm guessing that you don't really care, but I wanted you to know that community goes on in spite of what you've done. Oh, and that - as a community - because you dropped bombs on us we're going to recall you on June 5th.

Brad Werntz

Laura Komai: "Naked Power Grab" only SOUNDS like fun

my open letter by Laura Komai (originally posted at anthology)

Protest3 008
Well, let's face it, my sister is the one who gets letters published in the paper.  I can never pare things down enough.  But I decided to take up the challenge from Monologues of Dissent.  I am voting on June 5 to remove Governor Scott Walker out of office and here is why:

Since February of 2011, our store has sold over 23,000 buttons protesting the actions of Governor Scott Walker et al.  I will grant that most people buy more than one button, in fact, ten buttons is probably the average.  So perhaps we've only had conversations with 2300 people about the effects of Scott Walker on their lives.  Nonetheless, certain patterns emerge which have only reinforced the sentiments that prompted us to make buttons in the first place.

Now, our dad sometimes laughs and says, "you should write Scott Walker a thank-you note for the ways that he has boosted your business this year."  Ha ha.  Do I thank him for making my customers so worried about their health care, their livelihoods, their children's education?  Do I thank him for taking away the possibility of new jobs in reneweable energy sectors?  Do I thank him for threatening the quality of our waters and other natural resources?  No thank you.

Now, I know that there are those who will say that religion and politics should not mix, but I was raised in the United Church of Christ and my religion is a part of who I am.  I will admit that I might have a simplified version of Christianity, but mine is fundamentally about: "whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do so unto me."  That is about doing unto others as you'd have done to you, that is about justice and mercy and kindness, that is caring for those who might have nothing to give to you, and doing so because it is the right thing to do, not because of some eventual reward.  In that respect, I find Scott Walker unChristian and in a way that is truly offensive to me.  I don't expect everyone to agree with me, even about the existence of God, or about the value of the Church, but I DO expect people to adhere to some moral compass, whatever true north is for them.  I find Scott Walker utterly lacking in such direction.

But fine, perhaps you believe that church and state should be separate.  To that I would say that Scott Walker is also not abiding by the principles of state governance: accountability to taxpayers, transparency, the separate but equal branches of government.  I believe that all of his actions to "balance the budget" are really just an elaborate shell game to move taxpayer money into the hands of a few campaign donors, to reward these few people at cost to public well-being and to the natural resources of our state.
Arb 043
My sister and I own a small shop two blocks from the State Capitol.  We object to the actions of Scott Walker on some fundamental moral/religious grounds, but we also object on behalf of our customers.  What we hear from our customers is that they are worried about paying their bills, they are wondering about their pension plans that they've been paying into all these years, they are worrying about budget cuts and layoffs.  Worries such as those give lie to the notion that this state is "open for business."  I have seen very little action from the office of the Governor to allay such worries.

I think above all, what I have learned from this last year, is our utter dependence on each other.  We talk as if taxpayer is separate from state worker or consumer, but they are really all connected, if not residing in the same body.  We as consumers and voters are an important part of the picture, the well-being of workers is intimately connected to the well-being of the state as a whole.  Just ask whoever is in charge of collecting state income- and sales- taxes.  Yet Scott Walker behaves as if the well-being of this state can be parsed out into little packages, appeased with tax breaks for a few corporations, weakened air- and water-quality rules for a few others, the promise of school vouchers for a few families, a few roads for some construction companies.  Never mind that doing so threatens the livelihood of small businesses who depend on tourists swimming in clean waters, the education of the very many children who will still be in public schools, the need for our state to start facing up to the realities of climate change and the majority of people who will never make large campaign donations to be rewarded by tax breaks and special favors.

We ARE all in this together.  We know it; Scott Walker seems unable to face up to the entirety of the state he was elected to govern.  He is not fit to remain in office.

Have YOU taken the MoD Open Letter Challenge challenge yet?  It's not too late!  The recall election will be held on June 5, 2012. Make your case for the recall today and share your concerns with your friends and neighbors. Every voice matters! Make sure yours is heard in time!