Call to Action: 400th Solidarity Sing Along marked by increase in police vigilance

Whether the Fitzwalkerstanis Like It or Not,
We'll Be Here 'Til Wisconsin Gets Better

Guest post by MoD contributor 
Ryan Wherley

I am strongly encouraging as many people as possible to head on down to the Capitol for tomorrow's 400th Solidarity Sing Along in the Rotunda, Monday June 25th, from Noon until 1 p.m.  The Capitol Police force's post-election behavior has been increasingly bizarre, from an increased presence that has been following certain individuals around, to approaching other citizens and asking them why they keep coming back to the Capitol with ther signs.  Most notably alarming, various police officers have been taking thorough notes profiling all singers/dissidents in attendance daily and writing down verbatim the content of signs being held inside of the Rotunda.  Additionally, there has been a noticeable influx of plain-clothed "observers" making their presence felt on a regular basis.  Proceedings under the dome seem to be trending towards the Department of Administration and its secretary, Mike Huebsch, feeling that the time is drawing near to begin enforcing its unconstitutional rules passed last December against the First Amendment rights of individuals inside of and around the Capitol building.

The crackdown on the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the freedom to petition our government for a redress of grievances easily could have already taken place last winter.  However, approximately one thousand individuals showed up in defiance and Solidarity to sing in the shadow of the Capitol Rotunda's beautiful holiday tree, on December 19th, 2011, the day the new and unconstitutional rules were supposedly to be put into effect.  Before and since that day,  a dedicated group of citizens and heroes of the movement show up without fail at the Capitol to sing inside of the Rotunda on every Monday through Thursday and occasionally some Fridays after the outdoor Sing Along has ended.  These Wisconsin Winter Soldiers' constant presence on the ground floor, first floor and second floor of the Rotunda is an important and necessary reminder of why we're still here, tracing a direct lineage back to the original Capitol Occupation attempting to stop the passage of the Budget Despair Bill in the winter of 2011.  Not so coincidentally, the Capitol Police and DoA never bothered attempting to quell dissent by enforcing these new anti-protesting rules.  Or so it seemed, up until Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs ended his time overseeing the bulding shortly before the election, in order to pursue a job working for the Dane County Emergency Management Agency.

They hoped we would go away after the June 5th Recall election.  We didn't.  They hoped the numbers would dwindle around the Capitol on a daily basis.  They haven't.  They hoped that we would forget and pretend everything is all gravy in Wisconsin now.  We didn't and it's not.  Scott Walker's bought and sold victory in the election on June 5th means one thing for the sake of Wisconsin's future: it's in as much trouble now as it was on June 4th.  The need to maintain a consistently visible and vocal presence inside of the Capitol is as important now as at any time since the original Occupation last February and March.  The Fitzwalkstanis now bellow hollow rhetoric about "moving forward" and "working together"  in hopes that everyone will forget what happened to our state under the Governer's shameful idea of "leadership" over the past 18 months and what will continue to happen going forward.

I've said before that I and hundreds of thousands of others were awakened in the beginning months of 2011. I'm sure as hell not going back to sleep now, even if the habitually untruthful and heartless Scott Walker essentially tells us that it's time to move along...nothing to see here.  Sure thing, Scooter.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain trying to amend the state constitution in order to take away the citizens' unabridged rights to recall elected officials, hold them accountable for their actions and prevent the elected despotism we've become accustomed to in Fitzwalkerstan.  Cover your ears when State Assemblyman and Joint Finance Committee co-Chairperson Robin Vos and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus unconscionably drum up fears of rampant voter fraud for weeks before the recall elections, only to use the city of Racine and Democratic Senator John Leman's narrow victory on June 5th as guinea pigs for their implicitly racist and explicitly unfounded theories.  Turn away from the television when Scooter refuses to address the question of whether or not he would sign a statewide union-busting Right to Work for Less bill into law if it should MIRACULOUSLY find its way to his desk, even though he has "no interest in pursuing that."  Don't ask any questions when members of the United State Congress follow up with the Governer as to whether or not he'd like to amend his public testimony last year to account for its perjurious nature following the release of his explosive "Divide and Conquer" conversation with billionaire Diane Hendricks.  Cast the newspaper aside when radical, anti-choice organizations say they are eagerly hoping that the Republicans re-claim control of the state Senate in the November elections so their orgs can resume pushing their extreme anti-women's health agenda through the Wisconsin legislature.  Bury your heads in the sand when thousands of teachers are laid off, countless public employees see massive pay cuts to their newly calculated "base wages" as their current union contracts expire, extracurricular activites are cut and class sizes rise in schools and class offerings decline and tuition rises at our public universities, as the painful reality of another $800 million worth of scapegoating policies and shamelessly austere cuts to public education hits home.  Oh yea, and definitely avoid visiting websites where Capper Liebenthal, Jud Lounsbury, Lisa Mux, Greg Gordon and countless other citizen journalists and bloggers uncover and report on an ever-unfolding story as the federal government and Milwaukee County D.A.'s office closes in on Scott Walker and his Criminal Defense Fund via the ongoing John Doe investigation.  Can't leave that one out!

There are plenty of reasons to keep showing up at the Capitol, continue speaking our minds and serve as omnipresent reminders to a corpo-fascist like Walker that although we may not have recalled...we will assuredly never forget.  I hope to see a large turn out to sing songs of hope, labor, Solidarity, populism and especially, Wisconsin, inside of the Rotunda tomorrow.  Bring your singing voices (no matter how off-key,) bring your banners (no matter your level of artistic ability,) bring your signs (but not on sticks)  and bring your unbridled passion for social justice and the First Amendment.  Just make sure that you don't bring your snakes, though, (you hear me, Matt Johnson?)  as, for some unknown reason, those are still notably banned from entry into the Capitol. Don't be shy.  Remember to keep showing up inside of Our House whenever you have the chance...for as recently-passed activist Doleta Chapru penned in "Pass the Cheddar," one of her many Wisconsin-based song remakes, "We'll be here 'til Wisconsin gets better"...and we have a long ways to go before that day comes.  SOLIDARITY!!

Walker's still here. And so are we. Let's make the most of it.

16 June 2012
Dear people who wish we would go away,

I'm afraid you haven't heard the bad news, or perhaps it just hasn't fully sunk in yet: Scott Walker is still our governor.  And that stinks. To put how much this stinks into perspective, think of it this way: Scott Walker still being our governor stinks as much to me as my exercising my right to free speech stinks to you.  Really. That much.  So we may have something in common after all: mutual agony and frustration.
 Anyway, Scott Walker still being our governor actually means we won't be going away. It does not mean, as some of you seem to have hoped, that we will now stop caring about the abuses of power and threats to our livelihood and our future that this administration has made inevitable. In fact, we will probably be speaking out much more than if Scott Walker was no longer our governor, on account of the dramatically increased need for citizen vigilance and people to stand up for our schools, kids, needy, unemployed, underemployed, homeless, working poor, working not-poor, public sector workers, private sector workers, small business owners, teachers, librarians, women, people with disabilities, people without insurance, people who can't afford the insurance they do have, people who wish they could get their share of the federal foreclosure money they should rightfully receive that was siphoned off by the governor, people who can't afford the new college tuition increases, people who care about the environment, people who care about the deficit we're kicking down the road, people who care about a return to civility, people struggling to make ends meet, and so on.

Let me give you an example of why I'm so sure we're not going away: the kinder, gentler Scott Walker just said that public union benefits are a "virus." That's right. One day after he hosted his Bipartisan Beers & Brats Lovefest of Lies & Deceit, he took yet another stab at the compensation public workers have paid into with their education, experience and negotiations over many, many years, in an effort to further the absurd lie that public employees are a blight - and a contagious one at that! - on society.

Not exactly the sort of healing talk we were looking for, or the sort of fence-mending we were promised on election night.

So, sorry. But I'm pretty sure we're not going anywhere for a while.  I propose we make the most of it by working together to move forward: let's all pay attention to what's really going on. Let's talk about it. Let's do something about it. Despite what our governor says, there is more to every issue than just "my way or the highway." There's middle ground to be found.  Scott Walker might not be interested in finding it, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have also to pretend to be myopic bullies. We can work things out, you know. That's what dialogue is for.

Your friend,
One of Many Concerned Wisconsin Citizens

P.S. Some of you, I know, are well aware that Scott Walker is still our governor. I know this because you keep saying "You lost! Get over it!"  To you, I just have to say this:  I can accept that we lost. But I will not accept being silenced.  Nor will I accept the assault on my children's education that continues to be waged as we speak, or the disgraceful attacks on their teachers that continue to come from the highest office in the state.  These are things I cannot get over.  But I might suggest that if you are so concerned about getting over things, you accept that you have won, and consider paying less attention to those who ideas you find so useless.  Or, you accept that we might actually have some room for dialogue after all, and approach our differences with respect.  That's all we ever really wanted in the first place.

Happy Fathers' Day (Again!) to Scott Walker, Governor Dad

15 June 2012
Anniversary update

Dear friends (and "Governor Dad"),

A year after writing the letter below, Governor Scott Walker still occupies our mansion. Sigh. Let's hope he and his family have a nice Fathers' Day and that he finally gets that Abe Lincoln tie he's been coveting.  Everything I said last year is just as true today, except amplified by the increased fervor with which the governor appealed by name to his sons during the campaign - especially during the debates and that horrifying ad he aired around the holidays where the boys were seething through their role as props at a soup kitchen.  The frequency of these appeals, which attempted to evoke the sense that Walker "cared" (and deeply) about public schools and The Future, was as distasteful as their transparent superficiality.

The worst part of being a politician is undoubtedly being forced to manipulate your private life to fit your public persona, and invariably the kids (and spouse) suffer most from those manipulations.  As a parent, I don't know how I'd deal with that scenario without hurting my kids, and I don't envy Walker's position. But as a constituent of Fitzwalkerstan, I can only imagine that it must be really hard to be Scott Walker's kid.  I just wish the governor would leave them out of it. It's not fair to them  - or to us - to be dragged out constantly as "proof" of his connection to our schools and our presumably shared values. Walker talks the talk of Faith, Family and Freedom, but his walk heads down another path: straight toward the bank to cash the checks his out-of-state benefactors.  Among them: education privateers like the DeVos family, who famously never contribute any political funds without expecting a return on their investment. What return do they expect today?  And how will my kids be paying it tomorrow?

With an indictment looming in the future, I can only reiterate what I said a year ago:
As the head official of this state, the messages you send your children echo down to every child in this state. I am a parent, too. And I have no intention whatsoever in instilling these duplicitous "values" in my own family. But while our values differ, I don't doubt that we care equally about our children, and our hopes for their future.  The difference, though, is that you value your (profoundly flawed) ideology above all. And I, above all, would value your resignation. 
Happy Fathers' Day!

Here's to resignation. And ties that honor Honest Abe. 


19 June 2011
Dear Scott Walker,

Today is Fathers' Day, and I hope you spent yours with your family, doing fun family things and being a good dad. Because you sure are doing a bad job at being governor, so it would be nice if there was an area in which you found you could excel.

I don't pay much attention to your private life, but it does strike me that you make such frequent mention of your kids, so I kind of feel like you're inviting us to see something of your parenting philosophy, which I'd like to visit briefly given the special occasion we're celebrating today.  You are on record as saying that you hope your boys take college more seriously than you did, and also repeatedly saying over and over again variations of this:
"I have two sons that go to public high school. The last thing I'm going to do is hurt public education in the State of Wisconsin. I don't want to hurt my son Matt, I don't want to hurt my son Alex. My school district just announced that because of the reforms  we gave them, they're going to be able to restore positions that were laid off, and they're going to be able to reduce the tax level. To me, that's exactly what I said would happen."
So I'd like to congratulate you for making a gesture toward recognizing the importance of of supporting education and encouraging your children.  And also for your hilarious joke about cuts to education and eliminating the rights of public workers being "reform."

But I really wish you'd be a little more honest about what you're really telling your boys (and by extension, all the kids in Wisconsin), which seems, from my perspective (i.e. listening to all the things you say in public), to be the following:

1) Get an education, because people like that piece of paper. But be sure to get a real job when you're done. 
It's well-known, since your conversation with the faux-Koch that you don't consider public sector employment "real money," and that your dropping out of college has been defended time and again as you insult those with degrees by talking about how useless they are. Google it if you want sources; I'm not in the mood to revisit the hundreds of quotes, articles, analyses, etc, on this topic. It's not my job to do all of your homework.

2) Public workers are disposable, manipulable, and the least among us. Avoid them. They do not deserve your respect.
You tell your us that your district was able to "restore positions without layoffs" but that's not entirely honest, is it? The district saw deep cuts to personnel and was only able to balance the budget with draconian cuts to pay and benefits:
"The feat was done as Ertl said it would have to be done — not on the backs of children in the classroom but on the backs of school employees through major pay and benefit concessions."
"All this would not be possible without those concessions from our employees," Ertl said. Board member Mary Jo Randall echoed that, with added thanks to Ertl and his administrative staff, saying, "I don't think you can say enough about our employees and our leadership."

3) Don't worry about being honest. A half-truth is as good as the truth.
While you like to use your district as an example of how great your budget bill is for Wisconsin, in fact it's an excellent example of how local communities pay the price for your cuts to everyday programs and education in exchange for the handouts you delivered to your corporate funders. True, your school district was able to balance its budget and even come in under the levy of the previous year, but more careful analysis shows that property taxes will see a spike, and the real cost of these cuts will be felt throughout the the district in the coming years, as taxpayers cover the costs and staff continues to suffer under pay freezes, which the superintendent has repeatedly stated he sought to minimize:

Board discomfort

The proposed hike was generally ill-received by the School Board.
Board member Phil Kroner said he is concerned about raising taxes given persistent economic pressures on district taxpayers. He also questioned whether more could be done to limit spending. "A lot of our citizens are having to make cuts in their own budgets," he said. "I'm concerned that not enough effort was made in looking for cuts to try to hold things as low as possible or even to spend less than the levy (limit) is allowing."

Handcuffed by revenue losses

Superintendent Phil Ertl assured the board that he, Mack and other administrators pored over the budget line by line in a "painstaking process" to ensure efficiency.  Mack said the tax increase is caused entirely by state reductions in school funding and is therefore out of the district's control. The district is facing a $2.97 million - or 11.4 percent - cut in state aid. "I think that tells the story right there," Mack said of the numbers.
When the state sets the revenue cap - the total amount of tax and aid revenue a district is permitted to gather - but then reduces aid, that funding hole must be filled by property taxes, Mack said. "I think the misconception that exists out there is that school districts control their levy, and they really do not," he said.
4) A promise means nothing, but that doesn't make it meaningless. There's nothing more powerful than a broken (or insincere) promise.
This one is particularly poignant to me, since, again, it involves direct reference to your boys and direct consequences to me and other parents and public workers.  Remember a year ago this month, when you were campaigning, and you kept saying things like this as you made a promise to end late-night votes:
"I have two teenagers and I tell them that nothing good happens after midnight. That's even more true in politics. The people of Wisconsin deserve to know what their elected leaders are voting on."
Well, not only did you (obviously) not keep that promise, but you continue to applaud the late-night antics of Republican legislators as they work in the dead of night to introduce new measures and push through legislation without public comment, consent, or full understanding.  Very sneaky. Very dishonest. And a very strong message to send to our kids, don't you think?

5) Put yourself first. It's not your job to care for others.
As far as I'm concerned, this is the most important message you're sending your sons, and I applaud your consistency in sending it. So many children today are subjected to ambivalence, soul-searching, and careful consideration of the pros and cons as their parents make big decisions. But you show your boys - and the rest of the children of this state - that such wishywashiness is for losers. Winners act fast, take chances, and make decisions that will benefit the people they know and love. The people they don't know or love can take care of themselves. And that, you've shown us, is the American way.

So congratulations. You seem to be raising your boys exactly the way you feel best. It's a question of values.

As the head official of this state, the messages you send your children echo down to every child in this state. I (as you know, from your reading and taking into consideration of the specific comments of my letters), am a parent, too. And I have no intention whatsoever in instilling these duplicitous "values" in my own family. But while our values differ, I don't doubt that we care equally about our children, and our hopes for their future.  The difference, though, is that you value your (profoundly flawed) ideology above all. And I, above all, would value your resignation. 

Imagine the headline: Walker Resigns, Sites letter, children, for his decision.

The children of Wisconsin would thank you for it.
And so would I.

Until then,
Heather DuBois Bourenane
Taxpayer, parent, and comparer of the things you say to the things you do.

P.S. I hope you got an Abe Lincoln tie for Fathers' Day, so you and Grothman can be twins on Crazy Ironic Tie Day at the office.

Senator Grothman in his (and hopefully YOUR, if your kids know what would suit you!) Lincoln tie, which seemingly inspires him to say things like "The Earned Income Credit is the equivalent of a welfare check" and "The only way [cutting the Earned Income Credit] is a sign of Wisconsin values is if you wanted to promote single motherhood."  It's the kind of tie that makes you classier - and oh so eloquent! -just by wearing it! I wonder what it will inspire you to say...something new and true perhaps? It could happen!   Image:

A Special Thank You to Governor Walker (guest post)

"I learned at the moment when I was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people, that I had a voice."  
The recall election may have been a loss to those of us hoping all of Wisconsin would wake up to Walker's abuses of power, but this letter proves that the rise of citizen awareness and citizen action is a victory that could not have been won otherwise. A fan of MoD who has been following our open letters and wishes to remain anonymous, writes: "You have shared your letters, so I am sharing mine."  In it, she thanks the newly re-elected governor for allowing her to realize that "being an informed voter is the most important thing you do."
A Special Thank You to Governor Walker 
Guest post from a private sector worker
Dear Governor,

I would like to thank you for what you have done for me personally to grow as an informed voter. My story is I grew up in Wisconsin and spent sometime working for Tommy Thompson. At the time, I had no interest in politics, but was putting myself through school and it was a good second job.

Later, I moved to California and signed the recall petition against Gray Davis. I did this because I was at a grocery store and in a hurry. Someone with the petition told me all these horrible things the Governor had done to the state. So I signed. I was a small business owner and only knew that I was trying to make ends meet. But really it didn’t matter so much because I didn’t follow politics and I didn’t vote often.

The next election I voted in was to elect Barack Obama as President. I bought into the idea of Hope and Change and cast my ballot. I can honestly say now that because of you, I understand why I feel the way about our current President as I do. You see before you, I was an ill-informed voter. One who made decisions based on perception rather than reality.

In the days since you took office, I have learned that there are plenty of people willing to pass their days without knowledge.

So getting on to why you have been so important in my life. I have since learned that being an informed voter is the most important thing you can do. I now know that you must research and find out the facts behind what is truly driving policy. So I thank you for that.

I volunteered my time in the depths of winter to the point that I could not feel body parts. Why? Because of you! I gave up weekends, put regular life things on hold. I walked the streets to get out the vote. I met the most incredible people and felt what it was like to stand up. In the freezing drizzle, my bones shook with the cold. I learned at the moment when I was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people, that I had a voice. All because of you.

But sadly, I may now be your worst enemy in this ideological fight you think is so important. Why? Because I will continue to inform people of what you do and the reasons behind it. I now know ALEC because of you. Without your style of passing laws in the middle of the night, I would not know the actual laws around passing policy. And honestly, I would have never, ever watched an entire House Oversight Committee hearing.

Yes, now I know who you are, Governor Walker, and what you stand for. To me, that is everything I needed to become the person who will relentlessly give their time to fighting that. So again, I thank you for awaking the intellectual voter in me.

Best of Luck with the indictment!
A private sector worker

Meet My Secret Twin

(Crossposted  at The Mudflats)

by Jeanne Devon & Heather DuBois Bourenane

I’m a progressive working mom with two kids.

My state had a very regrettable governor foisted upon it.

I decided to speak out and started a blog.

Soon our regrettable governor became infamous, and national news outlets began calling me.

I suddenly found myself on the pages of The New Yorker, The Huffington Post & interviewed by Rachel 
Maddow and Ed Schultz.

I still find it stunning that anyone would consider our governor for a Presidential ticket.

It’s cool that, through social media, I’ve found someone just like me.


Jeanne in Alaska
Heather in Wisconsin

Has Walker's call for unity already been betrayed by his staff? A letter from Callen Harty on Ciara Matthews

Just three days after Walker's noble call for cooperation and unity, his communications director, Ciara Matthews is already tweeting her own tune, issuing a spiteful, pointless jab that accomplished nothing beyond betraying the sense of cooperation Scott Walker claims the next stage of his administration will bring.  Callen Harty, whose guest posts on MoD never fail to inform and inspire, immediately called this hypocritical move to the governor's attention, with this beautifully restrained and civil open letter, which he published first on his blog, A Single Bluebird, and shares with permission below. If you're unfamiliar with the controversy surrounding Walker's choice of a communications director, you might look here and here for some context (and here and here for more salacious context).

8 June 2012
Dear Governor Walker
Here is it, only three days after you survived the recall election and three days after you stood in front of your supporters and media and told all of Wisconsin that you wanted to put the past behind us and work with Democrats to create jobs and move Wisconsin forward.  Your words sounded great and for those of us who voted for Mayor Barrett what you said was the kind of balm that can sometimes help ease the pain of a stinging loss in a hard-fought election.
You have said in other interviews that you have been humbled and that you have learned some lessons even as difficult as this last year has been.  You said that you would have done things differently and that you would have brought others to the table and you would have been more inclusive.  A politician who can admit that they were wrong and that they have learned lessons from their mistakes is a rare thing to see in our country.  If it is not just idle words I applaud you for it.
You have also said that you want to meet with Democrats, perhaps have some brats and beers together, and begin the difficult task of trying to piece back together the ripped fabric of the state we all love so much.  Again, unless this is empty rhetoric, I can appreciate your willlingness to do this.  I would suggest that you also open yourself to the citizens of the state and include more of us in your consideration as well.  You have made only rare appearances at events where anyone could go and the person who runs a state like Wisconsin really should be more accessible to the people.  You represent us and need to be able to hear our concerns.
All of these things you have said are good.  But it is meaningless if the people around you don’t follow your example  Your supporters created signs that said “Stand With Walker” to show support during the recall election period.  These people need to stand with you now and follow the leader and put divisiveness, anger, and other negative feelings behind them.  A true leader would not allow his followers to detract from his message of cooperation and reconciliation.  This is why I was surprised and upset to see that your Communications Director, Ciara Matthews, tweeted a very harsh message to Democrats (and I presume independents and Republicans who did not support you in this election).
I would be surprised if you haven’t seen it yet, as it is definitely making the rounds.  It read, “No leg. session until 2013 = symbolic state senate majority.  Your one seat accomplishes zero.  Just like your recall efforts.”  This kind of gloating and disrespectful behavior from a key player in your administration is unacceptable and juvenile behavior that should not and cannot be tolerated.  I might expect it from a neighbor who doesn’t like my politics, but not from one of your hired employees.  I presume Ms. Matthews is an adult, but based on the tone of this tweet from someone whose job is communications I question her maturity and her qualifications for such a position.
As the Governor, as the man who is telling Wisconsin that you want us all to move on and work together, you need to talk to Ms. Matthews and she needs to make a public apology.  As the chief executive of this state you should also release a statement acknowledging that this kind of behavior is unacceptable to you and that you truly do want to move past this kind of behavior and will not tolerate it.  If you do not, all the rest of what you have said this week will be seen as empty and meaningless words.
Thank you for your consideration.
Callen Harty
Monona, WI

Monologue of Despair (and Hope): Reactions to the Recall

7 June 2012
Hi all,

Well. We lost.  And that sucks.

But...we put up the fight of a lifetime and I hope the momentum does not stop here but only strengthens our resolve to get big money out of our politics and put people in charge of moving Wisconsin forward who have the best interests of all of us in mind.

The Isthmus asked me to share my thoughts on Tuesday's results for this week's cover story, "Him Again: Reactions to Scott Walker's Recall Victory."  You can click the link for the edited version of my response, and to read many more that express a range of emotions and ideas from a diverse group of people.

Here's the unedited version of my own response:
After working 16 hours at the polls, I learned Barrett had already conceded before I even got home.  I turned on the radio, and heard Walker claim victory.

I was inconsolable. I was shattered by Walker’s cruel, hypocritical victory speech, which revealed the depths of his megalomania and left me reeling: “People are sick of the attacks.”  His hollow, insulting claim that he plans restore the very dialogue he destroyed hit me like a body blow.  

Despite having put up a fight that will earn a place in history books, the citizen action and self-funded grassroots efforts that captured the world’s attention didn’t stand much of a chance against unlimited campaign contributions, full-time fundraising, and a messaging campaign so massive that the fact that it was dizzyingly full of lies and misrepresentations eventually became irrelevant.

People are sick of the attacks.  

Walker – in true “divide and conquer” form spent the majority of his speech bragging about how his divisive policies and refusal to negotiate prove he’s the kind of leader voters want, who will “stand up and make tough decisions.” Then he had the nerve to claim it’s time to work together.  

Scott “Fundraising IS Governing” Walker has zero intention of working together with anyone who is not handing him a check. We need now to strengthen our resolve to follow the money, and fight hard to keep it out of the politics that are destroying our schools, decimating our proud tradition of civility, and creating a vacuum where even the most massive, spectacular and inspiring display of citizen action is but a mosquito buzzing in ears that hear only the moneyed whispers of those who have shown us that democracy can, in fact, be purchased.  

We are sick of the attacks.  But that does not mean we’re about to stop defending ourselves against them.
Walker got one more thing right last night, and the heartless irony of it left me sobbing:  “Bringing our state together will take some time. There’s just no doubt about it.”
There's only one way to go from here.  Forward.

In solidarity,


P.S.  I want also to make clear that even though we lost the statewide battle, we definitely won the local one!  

With record voter turnout and registrations, Barrett won by 18% - 6 points more than his victory here in 2010.  And he won big is all the communities that had strong grassroots groups working to inform voters and get out the vote. So we learned one thing at the local level: 


And I'm feeling really, really good about that.  

THANK YOU, Sun Prairie voters and all who volunteered to make this happen. We win. Even if we're losers.  Our local minority might want to keep that in mind.

Vote today! Take Wisconsin Back!

5 June 2012

Dear Wisconsin,

This is it.  It all comes down to showing up and saying "I stand with Wisconsin."

Please vote today.


Dear Scott Walker: A farewell letter

4 June 2012. Recall Eve.

It struck me, as I couldn't sleep last night stressing over all the things I could do to help get out the vote that I'm not going to have time for, that I probably wouldn't have time to write you again before you're no longer our governor, and I wanted to get this off quickly this morning as a sort of final farewell.

Writing to you has changed my life.

Before February of 2011, I held a romantic and delusional faith in the democratic process.  I believed that representative government means that the main business of elected officials is to represent their constituents - openly, honestly, and with integrity, and that they were required to address the concerns citizens brought before them.  I thought that's what open meetings were about, what public hearings were about, what correspondence and inquiry was for.  That if you brought your concerns forward, they would be addressed. Maybe not resolved. But at least respectfully acknowledged.

You have made a mockery of these beliefs, and a mockery of democracy.

When I started writing to you, rather than address any of the very valid concerns I raised in my letters, you closed the door to open communication and transparency by simply ignoring me. I have, to date, received  a grand total of zero correspondence from your office, despite my repeated requests for answers and responses to tough questions. When I asked you to come forward denouncing the threats that were being made to recall workers (including me and my family), you responded by mocking us openly, and repeating the same tired lies about how we were paid out-of-state agents, non-taxpayers, etc.  And then you actively tried to stifle dissent by removing me from your E-Update mailing list, even though I repeatedly asked to remain on it to receive these crucial taxpayer-funded campaign ads updates.  When I told you that I was still receiving the updates at another mailing address, your staff magically (thanks google!) determined what that address must be and removed that address as well.

These actions are unconscionable. They show a contempt and disregard for democracy that should be in itself grounds for recalling you. And yet this is just one symptom of the chronic abuses of power and delusions of grandeur and untouchability that have marked your administration from the start.

I write to you today, then, as always, as a concerned and frustrated citizen, dazzled by your inability to represent the people you allegedly govern - to the extent that you have actually convinced yourself that fundraising counts as "governing." I write as a parent enormously concerned with your cuts to education and your attacks on working families, especially the working poor who depend on the public services you seek to deny them, like the 17,000 additional people who will be cut off from BadgerCare in the coming weeks. I write as a public worker, who, in the wake of you attacks on our rights and disregard for our need to earn a living wage, takes home 25% less pay this year than I did last year - for doing the exact same job (and then some). I write as a member of a friendly community who has seen first-hand what happens when the governor of the state demonizes educators and other public workers, and who refuses to stand by and let your incivility unravel the social fabric that gives our life meaning.

I write to you as someone who has been trying, for over a year now, to reach out to you in the only way I really can - by writing to you - and has been ignored, insulted and attacked.  I write on behalf of the 400+ people on our local recall team who have been working tirelessly to see you out of office. I write on behalf of the 7900 people in Sun Prairie who signed the petition to see you recalled. I write on behalf of the 1,000,000+ Wisconsinites who said: we want our state back.   I write as someone whose life has been transformed by seeing firsthand what democracy really looks like. And it's a beautiful thing.

I write because I want to say to you, directly: tomorrow, we take Wisconsin back.  And it's going to be a beautiful day.

I'm going to need your new email address after that, I guess.  At least until the indictment comes in. Then we'll just have to be old-fashioned pen pals because I don't think they let you have email in jail. Not sure how that works. Maybe your lawyers can let me know how to get in touch.

I'll look forward to that. Because forward is the only way I look.


Getting out the vote: why it matters most. Guest post by Ryan Wherley

My friend (and three-time MoD guest blogger) Ryan Wherley recently took his recall enthusiasm and sense of urgency to the next level, going to work for Democracy for America, in which capacity he has dedicated himself full-time to getting out the vote in the June 5th recall election. He has been sharing his stories through a series of facebook notes, and the latest one is just too powerful not to share.  Thank you, Ryan, for this heart-wrenching tale from the field, and for doing the work that needs to be done.  It's not to late to help.  You can volunteer today to GOTV this weekend: top bets are with the Dems or We Are Wisconsin.

Another Night on the Canvassing Trail, Another Night of Hope for the Future of Wisconsin

by Ryan Wherley
I received the destination I had been hoping for yesterday when I was sent by my field organizers to the goldmine of anti-Walker sentiment: low-income housing.  The individuals and families that live in the apartment complexes on Northport in Madison understand that Scott Walker has come after them with an endless litany of attacks.  Walker instituted one-week waiting periods for claimants to receive unemployment insurance while for months heartlessly refusing to accept federal funding for extended unemployment benefits, leaving prior recipients flapping in the breeze of desperate uncertainty.  Walker claimed that he wouldn't raise taxes, then immediately instituted cuts to the Homestead and Earned Income Tax credits for people who needed tax credits the most. Walker cut-off state funding to Planned Parenthood and terminated the state's contract with PP for the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, making it far more difficult for thousands of underinsured and uninsured women to receive accessible and affordable reproductive health care, contraception, cancer screenings and overall preventative health care.  The legislature in Fitzwalkerstan pushed bills intended to severely lessen tenants' rights, making it easier for landlords to evict, deny the return of security deposits and look into an individual's past history in order to deny housing.  Walker's budget included a devastating $1.6 billion dollars in cuts to the public education system, while eliminating the Wisconsin FoodShare program for lawfully present immigrants.  Walker signed into law the repeal of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act that protected not only women, but ANY MINORITY who was discriminated against when it came to pay equity.  Walker ensured that over 17,000 individuals were kicked off of BadgerCare programs while tens of thousands more are despicably being kept on the waiting list, even though openings exist in the program.  And who could forget the appalling attempt to disenfranchise people across the state via the onerous and since-ruled unconstitutional Voter ID law...which would have most greatly affected students, the poor, the elderly, the disabled and minorities.

These are the oft-forgotten members of our society.  Their voices need to be heard as much, if not more so, than the middle and upper classes of American society.  We always hear politicians nationally and in our own state talk about the right-wing extremists' "War on the Middle Class"...and rightfully so.  But we don't hear NEARLY as often about the disgusting attacks that Scott Walker has engaged in on the lower-income individuals of our society.  His policies are intended to keep those on the bottom rung of the socioeconomic hierarchy in their present situation permanently.  He doesn't care about helping the lower class...he wants to create a permanent lower CASTE.  His complete lack of empathy for those individuals whose lives he has ravaged is more apparent with each passing day.

I knocked on well over 150 doors, spoke with somewhere between 60-90 adults and came across ONE...yes, ONE Walker supporter in the bunch.  Virtually nobody knew that early voting was taking place at the City/County building in Madison or that Union Cab was offering free rides to and from the polls for ANYONE on Election Day.  But they were very eager to vote the Governer [sic] out of office for all of the horrible things he has done to our state and to them in particular.  I explained to at least a dozen individuals how to register and received promises from countless others that they would vote early for Tom Barrett and Mahlon Mitchell and remind their friends and family how to vote, as well.

The day renewed my hope for our future generations as long as we keep battling on their behalf.  I received friendly waves from little kids all day and night long and gave my "Stand with Wisconsin" Blue Fist button to a polite teenage girl who asked if she could have it, as she proudly pinned it onto her shirt before I'd even left the building.  A little boy in the same group who couldn't have been older than 9 years old came up and asked me if I was against Scott Walker.  What a fantastic question!!  Upon learning that I was, indeed, against Scott Walker, he told me that he wanted to vote and asked how to vote.  After I explained that he had to be 18 years old to vote, he furrowed his brow and gave me a pouting sneer.  "I want to vote out Scott Walker!!" he whined.  I told him that he although he couldn't vote yet, he would be able to someday soon.  He worked up a smile and I asked for a high five, which he emphatically delivered before I headed down the steps and back outside.

As the evening drew to a close, I came upon the door of a friendly young man who seemed very receptive to my presence at his door upon seeing my buttons and "One in a Million" t-shirt.  After briefly explaining the cause I was promoting, he looked at me despairingly and said, "Unfortunately, I can't vote...I'm a felon."  The way in which he said it just caused my heart to sink.  However, I considered it my obligation to ask him whether he was "on papers" or "off papers."  Stirred by my question, he looked at me and firmly stated, "I'm off."  I excitedly informed him that he was MOST-DEFINITELY eligible to vote.  "Really??  I thought you had to be off papers for seven years, or something like that!" he replied.  Nope, you just have to be off papers, period.  A beaming smile now stretched across his face..."I hate Scott Walker!! I'll vote for do I register??" he giddily asked.  I broke down the process for him and after learning that all he needed was to take along his electric bill and state ID card, he told me that he would be taking me up on my suggestion to go cast an early vote today at the clerk's office on MLK.  "I know where that is.  I can't drive, but I can definitely get down there...I don't have anything to do tomorrow!!  Oh man, I have other friends who are off papers and didn't know they could vote, either.  I can't wait to tell 'em!"

 I could barely contain my own excitement at seeing how happy this 24 year old man was upon the realization that he could make his voice heard at the voting booth for the first time and that there were others who he could positively influence to do so, as well.  Those that control the system had not gone out of their way to ensure this man knew his right to make a difference through the tenet of "one individual, one vote."  I can only imagine how many countless others in Wisconsin have been disenfranchised simply because they have been led to BELIEVE they have lost their right to vote. We shook hands, thanked each other and parted ways, each of us assuredly feeling better about the world than before we had met five minutes earlier. There are so many beautiful moments in this world, but you have to stay alert, keep an open mind and step outside of your comfort zone to find them.  If what I experienced yesterday is being played out around the state on a daily basis, we are going to defeat Scott Walker and win this election for the people of Wisconsin on June 5th.  Celebrating under the light of the moon on the Capitol steps...what a beautiful night that will be...

Recall hero Ryan "Wheelsie" Wherley