Take Action: Tell Walker Wisconsin Women (and Men) Want Answers

Don't forget to call Scott Walker today,  the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, and let him know that his allegedly official proclamation of today as "Protect Life Day" does NOT speak for you.  He can be reached at (608) 266-1212 or by email at govgeneral@wisconsin.gov.  

This is not just about the proclamation, as offensive as it is, and as full of willful misinformation.  It's about transparency and upholding the dignity of the office of the Governor.  It's also about Walker's hypocrisy in pretending to be a reformed moderate while he continues to play the same divide-and-conquer games that made him the most divisive governor in America.

Below is the letter I sent to his office. Feel free to borrow.

22 January 2013
Dear Governor Walker,

On Friday, Wisconsin Right to Life issued a press release claiming that on Jan. 7, 2013 you proclaimed the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Jan. 22, 2013, to be "Protect Life Day." They included a pdf of the proclamation that appears to have your signature, and that of Secretary of State Doug Lafollette.

News of this proclamation is no where to be found on your own website, in any of your press releases, or anywhere else except a conservative Catholic blog on 1/7/2013.

Any proclamation that comes out of your office should be open, transparent, and immediately made public.  If this proclamation, which is made on behalf of all citizens of the state, is for real, you have some serious explaining to do as to why the proclamation was withheld from public scrutiny until the Friday before a long weekend, when no offices were open to respond to these issues, and the day in question (Tues. Jan 22) would be the day business resumed. You also need to answer why the proclamation was made public by a special interest group, and not your own office.  And if the proclamation is a hoax, you need to hold these groups accountable and immediately distance yourself from this divisive show of disrespect for the rule of law in our country and our state.

Issuing proclamations from the Governor's office only to special interest groups is an unconscionable abuse of office and shows a contempt for the majority of incomprehensible proportions.

I have already posted my outrage over this situation here and I expect to hear from your office to confirm or deny whether or not you actually signed this proclamation.

Heather DuBois Bourenane
Sun Prairie, WI

Update 2 1/22/13 9:25 am: The Governor's office just confirmed to me that he DID sign this proclamation and that it should have been make public on the Executive Orders page of his website. It is not there. The most recent posting is from 1/4. This proclamation was willfully withheld from the public and issued only to special interest groups, presumably to avoid controversy.

Call Scott Walker's office today at (608) 266-1212 to let him know what you think of his brazen declaration against women's rights to reproductive choice by declaring today, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to be "Protect Life Day."

Walker secretly declares Jan. 22 Anti-Choice Day, in a backalley where no one can see him

That's right.  It seems that Scott Walker has declared Jan. 22 Anti-Choice Day (behind the backs of the people of Wisconsin, in a backalley where no one can see him)

According to Right to Life Wisconsin, on Jan. 7, 2013 (inaugural day of the legislative term here in Wisconsin), Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a proclamation declaring Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 (the anniversary of Roe v. Wade) "Protect Life Day:" 

The proclamation, which caught the attention of the indefatigable Rebecca Kemble when it showed up on the Wheeler Report on Friday, Jan. 17 in a Wisconsin Right to Life press release, seems to have first appeared here, on the conservative Catholic website of Doug Lawrence where it was posted by a "Robert K."  There is no mention of it that I can find, anywhere, between these dates.

The proclamation itself is an outrage: it opens with the bold-faced lie that Roe v. Wade made abortions "legal for any reason during the full nine months of pregnancy" and continues on to cite some spurious and uncited statistics about the numbers of "unborn children lost to Wisconsin families."

The entire proclamation is basically a statement indicating that neither the law of the land nor the rights, health and safety of Wisconsin women  are of any significance or concern to the governor.

You'd think official proclamations would make the"news." I don't see it. Do you?
This, of course, is offensive enough. But what is really disturbing is the fact that - if this is for real (and it's almost hard to believe it is) - Scott Walker seems to have tried to push this through as secretly as possible, presumably in the hopes of avoiding massive protests on the 22nd.  No where does such a January 7th proclamation show up on his website, in his news releases, in his list of official proclamations, or in the Wheeler Report archive. The Executive Orders page doesn't show anything more recent than 1/4/13. And his office, strategically, is not open to address the issue.

Is it possible the governor only released a proclamation - issued for and on behalf of the entire citizenry of the state - to special interests groups?  If so, is that even legal?

Does our governor truly have so little respect for his constituents and the dignity of his office that he would  allow a special interest group to make his proclamation public on the Friday of a holiday weekend, knowing no one from his or any other office could respond before the actual day of the proclamation - Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013?  

Was this really orchestrated to prevent the backlash and counterprotest that will surely erupt when the state and the nation discovers that this brazenly anti-choice proclamation has been issued in our name?

On the anniversary of a ruling which cemented the rights of women to take ownership of their reproductive health, our governor has issued a proclamation declaring his total disregard for our rights.  And he has, apparently, done so as he does all things: in the most weaselly way he can.

Many thanks to Rebecca Kemble for bringing this to our attention.  I hope it gets the attention of people who care about upholding the laws that protect our rights everywhere.

Update: Click here for more details in Rebecca Kemble's report. 

Update 2 1/22/13 9:25 am: The Governor's office just confirmed to me that he DID sign this proclamation and that it should have been make public on the Executive Orders page of his website. It is not there. The most recent posting is from 1/4. This proclamation was willfully withheld from the public and issued only to special interest groups, presumably to avoid controversy.

Call Scott Walker's office today at (608) 266-1212 to let him know what you think of his brazen declaration against women's rights to reproductive choice by declaring today, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to be "Protect Life Day."

According to the Governor's office, the proclamation was signed on Jan. 7, 2013 and should have been part of the public record here.  You can see that the most recent post is 1/4/2013.  Why was this proclamation withheld from the public? How did the special interest groups know about it?  Wisconsin citizens have been duped.

One year later: Recalling the Recall

17 January 2013
Dear Solidarifriends,

Today is an important anniversary for Wisconsin.

One year ago today, it was just about this cold and this sunny when we delivered over a million signatures to the GAB.  The energy in the air in Madison that day was thrilling: seeing the results of our combined efforts, our shared concerns, our mutual frustrations and fears, so neatly boxed up and presented to the government was a symbol of the possibility of civic action, the real power of democracy.  It was a day that gave us hope not just in each other and the power of working together, but in the possibilities of dissent, the possibilities of working within the system to ensure that our government is truly of, by, and for, the people.

Mike Tapia
When thousands gathered at the Monona Terrace to celebrate, the diversity and range of people present was staggering: I talked to northwoods housewives and Madison lawyers. Farmers, small business owners, professors and artists.  Trade workers and students. Retirees and librarians. Unemployed parents and a couple of people so wealthy you almost wondered why they were lefties. And tons and tons of teachers, every one of whom always says the same thing: this was never about the money. It's about making sure our schools work. Making sure we're allowed to teach.   It was a humbling, gratifying, exhilarating day, and one I will never forget.  When I was asked to be one of the people who held up a zero in the 1,000,000 that was brought out on stage to announce that we had met and exceeded our signature collection goal, I felt supremely honored.  My face hurt from smiling the next day. And when I asked some of those people to share their stories, I was humbled to receive entry after entry cataloging the myriad reasons regular people volunteered in this effort.  "Democracy in a Box: Stories from Wisconsin" is probably the best thing that ever came out of this blog, next to the Brian Williams letter, I guess.

What happened next, as we all know, was less exhilarating.  Almost immediately, the partisan politicking began and with the initial goal checked off our list, the momentum died down a bit as we waited out democracy to see where the recall election would lead us, waited til it was time to go knock on doors to get out the vote (which we did - and how!).  There was debate about candidates, debate about process, a sense of urgency and excitement to get to the election.  But mostly there was the bottomless coffer of out-of-state funds against which we were ultimately powerless.  We did our best. We lost. We learned.  

I always joke that while I play an optimist in my capacity as a community organizer, I'm a pessimist at heart, but it's true. I don't have a particularly rosy view of the state of political affairs or our hopes for changing them, which is why I fight so hard.  (It's also why I'm not a Democrat, but we can save that debate for a different post.)

But I can honestly say that even though we lost the recall election, we made significant victories in building solidarity, awareness, and networks of committed people who are now working locally together to move their communities forward, keep them informed, and do what they can to protect them from the draconian assault on the public good that is the corporatist agenda. We sent a message to Wisconsin and the rest of the country that, if nothing else, we need to speak up, speak out, and act, when those that have been entrusted the power to serve us all are so blatantly coerced into serving the few.

It's been quite a year.  And a year well-spent.  With victories well-earned and defeats well-learned.

Let's use those lessons to take even more productive actions as the Governor and his supermajority reveal their next budget.  Let's speak out together to support fair funding for our schools, to protect our environment and respect our treaties with the people who were here first, fight for full implementation of federal healthcare benefits that will help Wisconsin families get the medical treatment they need, ensure that our civil and constitutional rights are being upheld that we remain free to petition our government at our Capitol without being harassed, intimidated or subject to unconstitutional rules of "decorum." Let's use these lessons in the April 4 elections to ensure that our Supreme Court regains some semblance of dignity and justice and that we make sure every parent and every citizen in the state knows what's at stake in the race for Superintendent of Education.  Let's take our local races seriously and do whatever we can to make sure that the people who hold local office - whatever their personal politics - work to represent the interests of all constituents, not a partisan agenda.

Citizen action works.  Let's work together.

Happy Anniversary.


Walker's State of the State: It's Not Working

Tonight, a week after the US Bureau of Labor ranked Wisconsin #42 in job growth, Scott "Fundraising IS Governing" Walker made his third State of the State address. I was working, so I didn't see it live, but I just got done reading the transcript here.

State of the State.   
Photo by Wendi Kent. Truth-telling by OLB.
Where to begin?

It was the usual fare, and a much-recycled speech, but it did have some lowlights.

Perhaps the low point is where he implied he "quit" college because he was offered a job to work full time.

Or when he says how great it is that the tech colleges "saved millions" by finding new ways to ensure faculty don't earn a living wage.

Or when he bragged about putting money in the "rainy day" fund two years in a row while Wisconsin kids are seeing cut after cut after cut to essential programming at their schools.

Or when he pretends that "rewarding" schools with money based on tests scores will do anything more than serve the kids already lucky enough to live in thriving districts, and take even more money away from the kids who need it most.

Or when he had the unconscionable nerve to take credit for the fully-funded pension fund he's been trying since day one to get his hands on.

Or maybe it was when he implied that the recall was the reason for no jobs.

Or when he made a bunch of excuses for no jobs, then said "but we don't make excuses....we get results." (Those results, of course, being no jobs).

Or his droning about "skilled workers...skilled workers...skilled workers" to once again imply that those currently out of work somehow lack the "skills" needed by employers - a claim for which anyone has yet to provide any proof (as Rebecca Kemble has demonstrated many times over).

Or when he called out by name the unemployed union workers he staged around him to give the impression labor supports his disastrous policies or job-halting measures.

But I think for me it was when he said this:
"Simply put, it is about helping improve the lives of 250,000 more families in Wisconsin.
You see, adding a new job is about more than just a number. Every time another job is created, and a new employee is hired, it means that another family has someone working in their household. For many, that means fewer worries about putting bread on the table or clothes on the backs of their kids—or even making the mortgage payment on the house."
What kind of nerve does he have talking about improving the quality of life for those hundreds of thousands of us who are working multiple jobs and not earning a  living wage?  Who are eligible for BadgerCare but categorically denied coverage?  Who struggle under reduced hours and smaller appointments but are, as of the new year, in Round Two of increased payroll deductions?

At Madison College and UW-Madison (the tech schools and universities he brags about in his address) I see it all the time: skilled, overqualified, public workers who cannot afford to make ends meet.  Professionals with PhDs who have university appointments and qualify for FoodShare.  Dedicated professionals trying to cobble together a living wage with multiple jobs while working toward degrees and "putting bread on the table and clothes on the back of their kids."  The mortgage?  A luxury item! "Foreclosure" echoes in the hallways. And these skilled professionals already HAD the jobs!  Here he is blustering again about 250,000 jobs when Wisconsin is 42nd in job creation and sinking, and implying that the right-to-work style, low-wage, no-benefit jobs he's been courting are going to do anything to "help improve the lives" of Wisconsin families.

These stories aren't unique. They aren't even interesting anymore.  Nothing Walker said tonight was new or interesting, either.  It's just an embarrassment and a disgrace. The failed policies of Scott Walker and his divide and conquer pandering to those who only profit from the demise of our public systems have failed all of us.  I stand, once again, ashamed in the face of his arrogance.

 I'm glad I taught tonight (thanks, common-sense scheduling solutions!) and didn't have to watch this live.  And I'm glad that this agony is tempered by having read this. And then read it again. And again.  It's funny because it's true. My deepest thanks to Giles Goat Boy for the spoonful of sugar to help this bitter pill go down.