Monday, December 5, 2011

Advocacy for Victims In Peril

I awoke this morning to this news on my facebook feed:

Justice Department officials informed service providers around the state this month it plans to cut grants from its Sexual Assault Victim Services program by 42.5 percent this year.

My wife has spent time as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). A SANE's job is to collect evidence in cases of sexual assault. You've seen the end product on CSI episodes - the rape kit. She's there to begin the official record for use in a court of law. Victims have a choice as to how far they want to proceed in this examination. They can choose to skip the exam, or they can choose to have the SANE collect as much evidence as possible. They can choose to prosecute, or simply seek therapy. How does a victim make an informed, rational decision in the hours after an assault, sitting in a hospital room?

On hand in each case is an advocate. The advocate is a trained volunteer who works with the victim to begin the healing process. Sometimes the advocate spends time teaching the victim about her rights in court. Sometimes she helps the victim navigate the bureaucracy in seeking further psychological help. Other times she just listens.

These advocates are not paid, but the organization that runs the advocacy program does have a paid coordinator and a skeleton crew of staff. They run as lean as they can, and the volunteers are to be commended for their community service. If you ask me, there ought to be more dollars committed to this type of advocacy. Nothing can change the fact that a terrible crime has been committed, but a loving community can go a long way toward recovery. Sometimes all it takes is one positive face. Advocates know this - that's why they volunteer.

WCASA is the organization in Wisconsin that works with social services, law enforcement, and the medical community to aid victims of sexual assault. The article quotes their interim director:
"These are disastrous cuts," Pennie Meyers, interim executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said in a statement. "(The cuts) will serious imperil our members' ability to meet the needs of sexual assault survivors."
Thankfully the cuts have not passed all the way through committee.

The cuts aren't final yet. The Department of Administration must approve them. Then it must submit them to the Legislature's finance committee, which would automatically approve them unless a committee member objects. That would prompt a hearing.

Lena Taylor and Robert Jauch, both members of the fab 14, are on the committee. This means there will be at least one public hearing. I'll be keeping close tabs on this issue as it moves its way through the process. I hope you will, too.

An engaged citizenry can provide bad legislation a quick death. This is about more than just a specific issue, though. I'd like to think I could send someone to Madison that would have the common sense to at least leave this program alone. In a perfect world, we would increase funding for victim advocacy. I'm looking forward to turning over the senate. I'm really looking forward to taking the governor's office back. As bad as things like this seem, they also serve as fuel for us as we brave the cold. Each signature adds forcefulness to our voice. Keep volunteering! Keep fighting! Wisconsin will be ours!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

They're Running Scared

It's been a wild ride this first two weeks. I have to say, I always knew we would do well, but the announcement of 300,000 signatures on Monday just about knocked my socks off. I'm so proud of each and every person I've met in this process. The effort displayed, even for something as simple as finding a place to sign, is beyond moving. To see this happen organically like it has is simply amazing.

Right now they think there are 10,000 Ohioans in Wisconsin collecting your signatures - even though so far I know for a fact that the vast majority of signatures have been collected at stationary locations. You have to find a place to sign right now, in the spare ten minutes of your day between the bajillion other things you have to do in your busy life. And you know the people you're working with. If you're like me, you're meeting neighbors and making friendships that will last a lifetime.

There's something brewing, though. There appears to be a direct correlation between our success and their anger. The better we do, the more frightened they get. We see reports every day of harassment, attempted destruction of petitions, physical altercations, and this, which is beyond scary.

It's been great to see the courage in the faces of our volunteers, and the overwhelming willingness to sign petitions. Tonight I spoke with 4 young women who were vehemently opposed to Walker's radical agenda against reproductive rights in Wisconsin. In about two seconds, an ordinary dinner conversation turned into a frank discussion on the state of money in politics. There's a false morality Walker and his allies seem to carry with them every step of the way, even as they come in and essentially give publicly owned resources to the private sector.

I sometimes wonder if that hunger for the moral high ground is rooted in a need to over-compensate for the severely immoral social and economic policies this group routinely carries out. I mean, sure, you're making life harder for poor people, but you're making it easier for them to live Godly lives. You can rest easy knowing that, while you took their money, at least you saved their souls!

The biggest reactionary piece of news I saw this evening was the following article from the Journal-Sentinal regarding new protest rules for the state capitol:

The policy says:

Groups of four or more people must obtain permits for all activity and displays in state buildings and apply for those permits at least 72 hours in advance. The policy requires permits for 100 or more people outside the Capitol. The policy does provide some leeway for spontaneous gatherings triggered by unforeseen events.

 Groups holding demonstrations could be charged for the costs of having extra police on hand for the event. Costs associated with a counterprotest could be charged to that second group.

The costs would be $50 per hour per Capitol Police officer - costs for police officers from outside agencies would depend on the costs billed to the state. The police could require an advance payment as a requirement for getting a permit and could also require liability insurance or a bond.

That's right - your family vacation to the capitol building in Madison just became a protest, and you need a permit, buddy! So, for the sake of argument, let's say you're a great planner, and you call in advance to get the permit. If you have a group of four or more and they decide you're planning on protesting, you could be charged 50 bucks a cop prior to coming to visit your lawmaker.

I've been to rallies where I supported my lawmakers, and I've also been to rallies opposing them. I've also come to a couple just to see what was going on and I'm sure my head would be counted in an official number. What this really means is, if you're coming to pay any attention to your lawmaker, positive or negative, you're demonstrating. The only reason a family of four will be able come to the capitol building from now on will be to admire the architecture. Come to think of it, maybe that will be my next reason for showing up!

On nights like this, I look forward to getting this administration out of power. Any show of anger from the opposition makes me fight harder. Any ridiculous-all-caps-misspelled facebook comment calling me a UNION THUG compels me one step further. You can call me what you want - if being concerned about 65,000 people getting dumped off of Badgercare makes me a union thug, then slap a union label on my forehead and call me Jimmy Hoffa. If I have to choose between an organization that stands up for working people and an organization that beats them down, it's not really a contest. Keep up the fight, folks! We're going to right this ship, one signature at a time. Wisconsin will be ours!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Who is "They" and Why Don't "They" Do Something?

A friend of mine "finally" signed the petition. This is awesome, especially because he's one of the rare independent-minded friends I have. Not that I'm ripping on any of my other friends, but I'll put it bluntly: I'm blessed with a lot of like-minded friends this fall, and I tend to gravitate towards people of the same political bent. I think most of us do that.

ANYWAY, he made a tongue-in-cheek comment about the need for door-to-door canvassing during the recall. His comment was, "Maybe they should do door-to-door canvassing, I had to seek out a petition." My comment back was, "Maybe you should volunteer!" Believe me, we're nearly there. We've been doing well without it thus far in Eau Claire, posting people on busy corners and awaiting drive-thrus. Partially because of this, we've yet to hit the neighborhoods door-to-door.

Both of us are joking - a little. He is right - it's time for us to start with the door-to-door work. We're doing well so far without it, but that work is likely to be coming soon. Not everyone drives past us and has time to stop just then. And I know he's a busy guy - two little kids and a job with weird hours. I can't fault him that much for not volunteering.

On the other hand, I've been blessed to meet so many folks that chip in any spare time they have to this effort. It's overwhelming. It makes me wonder, if we had a little more time and a few more people, just what we could accomplish. We could move mountains in Wisconsin.

We don't always have the energy all the time to get out and hit the pavement. I know I don't - I need time to rest, to relax, play music, and spend time with my family. I'm probably not the leading volunteer out of Eau Claire. But that's the best thing about it - you don't need to be either. One hour, one Saturday, two hours on a Thursday afternoon, just a little bit here or there - you can make the difference. You can be one more person that stood up to power in Wisconsin.

They rely on you staying home, not paying attention, and accepting the status quo. You challenge it with every comment, every signature you get, every happy honk you hear, and believe it or not, every negative comment you choose to ignore.

There is not a prize for the best volunteer. If there is, I don't think I'll win it. I've seen too many great people out there giving more than I could even imagine. But there is no greater reward worth striving for than a better government.

So, to my friend who has not volunteered yet - it's awesome that you posted your political preference on your facebook page in the first place. It's awesome that you signed. To my other friends working hard out there in the trenches, THANK YOU! Our victory is there in every moment that our hearts are in it. Keep moving ahead! Signature after signature, vote after vote, conversation after conversation - we will win this fight simply because it's being fought. As long as apathy remains dead, our cause lives a very healthy life. Wisconsin will be ours!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Screaming and Hollering

"I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half." - Jay Gould, 19th Century Industrialist

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." - John Steinbeck
Today I stood on a busy corner with a group of 3 ladies as we collected signatures for the recall of Governor Scott Walker. It's Black Friday, meaning hoards of people are out getting the deals for Christmas shopping. Apparently, it's also open season for screaming at recall volunteers.

The good news first: We collected loads of signatures in this prime location. We had a steady stream of folks coming up to sign. I even helped a blind guy sign the petition. That's right: legally, he just needs to make his mark. He was able to write his name on the dotted line like everyone else. That's democracy for you!

The kind of off-putting news was the level of anger directed at our group of people. We tried to have fun with it, keeping score of the number of drive-by screamers by the color of car they drove. I was maroon. That meant that every time a person in a maroon car screamed violently at us, I got a point in my favor. I ended my 2 hour session with 3 points. Losing to white was sort of obvious, as white is a more popular color. I think white had 4 points, and blue had 3 points.

But I have to say, the level of violence directed at us is a bit frightening. Last night volunteers went out essentially all hours of the night, gathering signatures from people in line for Target and Best Buy. Apparently people nearly called the cops on a gentleman who was physically threatening people.

It's obvious: we aren't just fighting billionaires far away. We're up against a paranoid group of people right here in our own communities. The idea of self-governance is so far removed from some folks that they seem to see our very democracy as a thing to be stamped out. And not lightly - violently!

I'd like to think that we'll bridge this gap, and let cooler heads prevail. But I don't exactly know how that happens, if all of our dialogue takes place with me on a street corner and you driving through a stop light with your foot on the gas.

I became fast friends with the ladies on the corner today. We are going through something uniquely ours, taking grief for it, dusting ourselves off, and smiling when the next kind citizen walks up to sign our petitions. Maybe the angry yelling man or woman will always exist in the political landscape, but we can make them footnotes in history. Someday they will be embarrassed to admit that they behaved so ridiculously.

We, on the other hand, have a moment in time that we will always be proud to remember. The entire reason I began this blog was in order to have a written record of my thoughts and experiences through this fight. One day, decades later, I want to look back and be proud of what we accomplished. My kids, my grandkids, my great-grandkids - they will all know what we did in Wisconsin in 2011. We stood up to power, we fought past Mister and Mrs. Angrypants, and we stemmed the tide of right-wing power, both in our state and in our country. Keep working, keep volunteering, and keep fighting. Don't stop. Our state motto is Forward. Let's keeping moving, kids! Wisconsin will be ours!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why I'm Signing the Petition To Recall Scott Walker

Today Wisconsin embarks on a historic journey into unprecedented territory for our state. In a few hours, I'll be signing the petition to recall Scott Walker.

I'm done listening to the billionaires who ruined our economy tell us we need to sacrifice more. I'm tired of seeing laws passed that funnel money into the pockets of few at the expense of many. I'm sick of hearing that very practice referred to as "shrinking government."

I want to grow old in a state that values its neighbors and its communities. Scott Walker's dream of Wisconsin is a modern feudalistic nightmare, leaving our fate in the hands of 21st century lords of industry as we patiently wait for their scraps.

The laws he passes to "spur competition" instead stifle it. He professes to protect human life and then guts social programs for the poor, the elderly, and the unemployed. He takes that money and dangles it in front of waiting entrepreneurs - folks whose only interest in our state is our willingness to labor cheaply on their behalf. And we're supposed to thank him, and them, for the favor.

This fall, I'm signing the petition because I want to deliver a message to the oligarchs of America: their factories, businesses, schools, and hospitals exist because of the people. We work every single day to keep their outfits operating. Without our labor, they have nothing. When an economic downturn happens, they gladly fire half of us and tell us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Then they ride off into the sunset with cash overflowing from their pockets.

In Wisconsin, they're taking everything they can, for a variety of reasons that don't even stand up to basic levels of scrutiny. From unemployment compensation, to BadgerCare, to reproductive health rights, to water quality, to a good education - all of these things that make sense to provide as a society are being leveled. They've even made it harder to get a decent beer at the end of the day.

They slap the label of progress on these cuts as the money rolls into their coffers. We're told to thank them for their "strong leadership."

Enough is enough.

I still think back to this past February, when the halls of the capital building echoed with chants, songs, drums, and yes, bagpipes. Wisconsin came alive, in the dead of winter, and began the slow pendulum swing toward justice again. All over the country, people awoke from their slumber and started fighting back.

We have nothing to lose - the worst-case scenario is that we maintain this terrible status-quo for a little while longer. But every legislative session Scott Walker calls, Wisconsin loses that much more. It's time to make a stand.

In many ways over the months we've already shown our power. Here again, we've got a chance at defining the debate. This fall we decide whether Wisconsin will belong to the oligarchs, or to the people. So pick up a clipboard, canvass, volunteer at a recall office, bring in handwarmers, cook a crockpot full of food, SIGN A PETITION! - any way you can pitch in helps add to the overall effort. This is a groundswell that will not stop until we've reached election day with a new governor. Let's make history! Wisconsin will be ours!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Toll Roads Coming?

This morning on my way to work, I listened to a discussion about the possibility of toll roads coming to Wisconsin. I'm not a fan of toll roads in general, in part due to their monetary inconvenience, and in part because the whole reason I'm on an expressway is to avoid unnecessary stops. My wife and I have had the pleasure of driving through nearly every state in the lower 48. I can tell you from experience that toll roads are no better (and are sometimes worse) than a plain-old interstate highway system.

The frustrating thing about this morning's conversation? Both guests were of the general opinion that we need toll roads now. It was upsetting that no one was there to argue the case for an option that has long been the status quo for many states all over the country. The only difference was that the right-wing guest didn't want elected officials setting the toll prices. That's right - no "Government Politician"ought to be controlling your tolls! In other words, let's make our roads private from now on, and let the "free market" decide how much you get to use the interstate.

It's been a long-running joke that Tea Party advocates complain about socialism while driving on socialized highways and protesting in public parks. Apparently this is the new solution - take even more property away from the public, and put it in private hands. I wonder how much money I would need in order to buy an interstate highway in Wisconsin and charge a toll for it. It sounds like it's going to be pretty cheap for someone in the near future.

In return, users of the road will get a longer commute, an extra chunk removed from their wallets on a per-use basis, the same old tax bill they always had at tax time, and, just my hunch, probably a poorly managed road with more potholes than we started with. Why fix a pothole if you're only accountable to the random poor shlubs driving to work every day? At least now, in theory, the taxpayers have a say, and there are engineers working on behalf of the state DOT to resolve issues. What the right appeared to espouse this morning was a completely private, unaccountable highway system.

Thankfully(?) the right wing commentator spent most of his time arguing against teacher pensions anyway. I'm not sure he got a lot of points across. But at this point, I'm not sure it matters all that much. UNLESS...

....Unless we can recall Scott Walker. That's right! Rumblings are all over the place inside the meeting rooms and on conference calls between recall groups. The recall is coming, folks. Right now we're just talking about timing, funding, and coordination. We did it this spring and we're going to do it again! I'm excited to see what happens. It's going to be a great 60 days. We're going to see our friends organized like they've never been before. Hundreds of thousands of signatures will not be an easy task. We're going to do it, ladies and gents. Scott Walker will be on the bread lines next to the rest of us in a few short months. Wisconsin will be ours!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

5 for 9 - Not Too Shabby!

The people in districts 12 and 22 came through for Wisconsin last night. Good work, folks! We're well on our way.

If it's one thing we've learned so far, it's that sticking together matters. It not only matters on a personal level, but it works wonders in the political process. We can beat back this destruction together. We've walked in the cold gathering signatures, marched in summer parades, canvassed in strange neighborhoods, and spoken with friends and family about these issues. We changed the makeup of the Senate this summer. We've altered Wisconsin politics forever.

We've also learned a lot about the electoral makeup of this state. We know where the pockets of conservatism are. We know the tough candidates out there. We know the lay of the land. We've visited corners of conservative Wisconsin that no liberal has explored for years. Sure, some of it was hostile territory, but we've learned that, for the most part, our neighbors are willing to have a conversation, even if we end up disagreeing with each other at the end of the day.

If you'll pardon my gender-centric tone for a second, we've also grown a pair. Gone are the days that progressives sit back and take heat from our angry conservative friends. We've learned, politically, to take the fight to the enemy. We didn't win every battle this summer, but taking five out of nine is a pretty good start. Recalls are difficult. We know that especially well now. I would argue that the hardships of this process are still going to be a deterrent to all but the utmost adamant parts of the electorate going forward.

Unfortunately for Scott Walker, I think a lot of us are still pretty angry at the way things are headed. I'm not really a fan of selling off my water quality, mortgaging our kids' education, privatizing our prisons, eliminating credit bureaus, and destroying our precious microbreweries. I'm not happy with the way working people have been treated - the repeal of the Earned Income Credit tax deduction will be a punch to the guy for a lot of people who thought Scott Walker didn't raise taxes. And of course, what started it all - the desire to kill organized labor on behalf of organized capital - is reprehensible. This is a fight I'll be engaged in the rest of my life (or until I own a few dozen factories).

While there may be some folks who are tired of recalls, my guess is those folks were already sleeping anyway. Maybe a knock on their door woke them up once and they're still upset about it. Those of us who have been awake and alive through this nonsense will be out on the streets as soon as it's politically feasible. I hope to see you all at the local recall office. I can't wait to hit my neighborhood with a clipboard and a pen. My guess is we'll be in hats and mittens when we do it. So here's my promise: hot cocoa at my house after we're done - everyone's invited! Wisconsin will be ours!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keep Fighting, Wisconsin!

It's been a great ride since this spring. I can't believe that a mere 8 months ago, most of us were sitting around, watching football, and not even thinking about political activism. Yes, many of us were interested in politics. Maybe we read the news every day, and we cared about our local communities. But we weren't on the streets, and we weren't talking about progressive causes, or seeking out candidates for election.

This year, all that has changed.

While we didn't get three Senate seats, we got a lot more than most people will recognize. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Here's what I see today, as a result of our efforts:

  • An energized, fun group of political change agents, connected all over the state.
  • Great future candidates for school boards, city councils, assembly seats, and national offices
  • Two seats in a Senate that actually has one Republican willing to compromise (we might actually get some balance now)
  • Competitive races in previously unopposed Republican districts
I've had a great deal of fun, and gained a great deal of confidence in our ability to move the dial to the left this year. The elected officials in our state with Ds behind their names are not wishy-washy, Blue Dogs. They're serious about fighting for us - we've seen it time and time again as they hold all night sessions, escape to filibuster, and completely alter their lives to hit the trail and talk to us.

At the same time it's become clearer to me now that progressive values don't start and stop at the ballot box. We make our communities what we want them to be. Eau Claire is a perfect example of a community that has built itself up as a model for happy, small-town life. We've got artists, lawyers, doctors, farmers, and business owners all coming together to make this place better. The council and county board here change as we change - they follow, and we lead. Our city isn't perfect, but it's definitely a sign of hope.

I've met so many people that are simply committed to making this place better, and I've only grown more optimistic this summer. We've got some great future leaders on our hands.

I'll be looking forward to seeing you all again as we ramp up the recall efforts on Governor Walker. My hope is that we bring even more people into the fold along the way. We need to recognize that we're not alone.

Everyone who requires a paycheck to live is in the same predicament today. Tea Partiers have to suffer along with the rest of us when politicians cut Badgercare, slash school budgets, and raise our taxes in order to pay for corporate tax breaks. They are only our enemy because they have declared it. They are swimming in the same shark-infested waters that we inhabit. Together we can pull out of this mess. Sure, we're not going to convince everyone that carries around a don't-tread-on-me flag. But we can continue to push the state forward if we stick together like this.

We've got two more recall elections to win next week. Let's keep our foot on the gas and win those elections. Holperin and Wirch both need your help. Take the drive to their district and pitch in if you can! Or head down to your local Democratic office and offer to canvass.

Last night was a far cry from perfect. I feel a little like I did after Bush won the election in 2004 - it's unbelievable to me that anyone would vote for a candidate that had done so much damage to our state in so little time. But I'm happy today for a united left in Wisconsin, powerful and noteworthy. If we can keep up this unity, we're going to go very far, my friends. Wisconsin will be ours!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Good News and Shameless Self Promotion

Good News:

All six of the democrats won quite handily last night. This is a cause for celebration. Seriously. As Republicans want to say these candidates were fake, they've been trying. Hard. They seriously wanted to defeat the Democrats on the ballot. The candidates that we put up all defeated them quite easily. There is absolutely NO reason for us to believe that we can't do the same thing in August. Today we can celebrate. Tomorrow we need to get back on the train and start working toward an August 9th victory. We can do it! Wisconsin will be ours!

Shameless Self Promotion:

My band Yam Cannon is having our CD release party on August 13th, at the Mousetrap in Eau Claire.

We play all original music, and this is our second album. We're irreverent, non-nonsensical*, and fun. Our new album, titled "The Beards of the Sun," features work written over the course of the past three years we've spent playing bars, festivals, barnyards, and backyards all over the upper midwest. Come on the 13th, and let us be your soundtrack for the evening. The party starts at 9, and the music starts at 10.

*I sort of like this typo :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

..And Then They Came for our Beer

From New Glarus Brewing Company's Facebook page this morning:
Gov. Walker may be too busy to sit down and discuss the ramifications of Bill 414 on Wisconsin's small brewers, but this cost our state jobs and was not necessary to help South African Breweries known here as SAB Miller/Coors. Nor is Miller under any threat from AB/Inbev. This was passed to hamper the growth of Craft brewers.
I love New Glarus Brewing Company. They make the venerated Spotted Cow, a great wheat beer that has just the right touch of sweetness and goes down easy. They also make a great stout, several good ales, and a wonderful IPA. I would suggest a brewery tour to anyone. New Glarus is a perfect example of Wisconsin's fine tradition of craft brewery, going all the way back to our founding days in the lumber camps.

Governor Walker and the Republicans in this state just signed a budget perfectly designed to invite big, out-of-state money to come in and plunder us. No one is exempt. Our schools, our drinking water, our workers, our forests, and now our beer - all of Wisconsin is under threat of conglomeration, outsourcing, and increased privatization.

The Wisconsin Brewers' Guild wrote an open letter to Governor Walker last week:

Nearly 600,000 guests visit our packaging brewery members’ facilities a year which represents 2.8 people for every barrel brewed. An additional 1.3 million people are entertained by our brewpub members. Since the beer sold by WI craft breweries is still only about 5% of the beer purchased in Wisconsin, it is easy to see how many visitors we could bring in if our collective market share would climb to our goal of 30+%.

Today there are over 50 small breweries and brewpubs operating in Wisconsin, employing more than 1000 state citizens. This doesn’t include the auxiliary industries that support these small breweries such as maltsters, glass manufacturers, paper manufacturers, chemical manufacturers, and brewing equipment manufacturers.

Once again, if we reach our goals, we will be employing over 6000 people directly by our members, and hundreds more would need to be added by our suppliers. Collectively, these businesses have been steadily adding jobs to our state for the last 25 years, including through most recent economic downturn. Craft brewing is one of the fastest growing industries nationwide.

Small brewers are also responsible for starting a renaissance in brewery related agriculture in Wisconsin, with barley, wheat, and hops now being grown to supply the state’s craft brewing industry.


Besides stifling future growth these changes also de-value existing businesses by removing valuable, portable, assets from their portfolios.

Interestingly, the principals promoting these radical modifications to the business models have been steadily reducing Wisconsin jobs. The Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association is a shrinking organization. In 1994, there were 92 wholesalers in the state. In 2007, there were 67. Today there are 42. Each of these closures or mergers results in loss of jobs. Miller-Coors has been steadily reducing workforce in the state for years, including the recent move of their corporate headquarters to Illinois.

Much of this reduction is due to a nationwide push for “distributor consolidation” driven by mergers of the world’s largest brewers. It is well publicized that Miller-Coors is seeking to have all of their brands with the same distributor. In Wisconsin, the consolidation has been completed in Milwaukee, Madison, and the southwestern quadrant of the state. The northern half of the state still has independent Miller and Coors wholesalers. The only portion of this legislation that is fiscal in nature creates a new state bureaucracy funded by new “wholesaler permits” with a cap fee of $2500. When the Miller-Coors consolidation process is complete in the north, there will be insufficient funding for this new position. This seems to run counter to your policies.

We believe that changes can be made to our distribution laws in a way that NO Wisconsin businesses are losers. The process should include input from all affected parties.

Please veto all of motion 414 in its entirety.

In spite of this plea from local businesses, the budget was passed, and the governor signed it without so much as an acknowledgment of the existence of the Wisconsin Brewers' Guild.

When the governor says Wisconsin is open for business, apparently this means creating a climate where:
Taken together, these changes speak loudly. What does business prefer? A desperate labor force ready to take any job they can find: Workers with little money and less access to basic healthcare services. Reduced power at the bargaining table. Fewer options for upward mobility. No competition from local upstarts or small businesses: Craft breweries are but one example of this new "pro-business climate" we're creating in Wisconsin. Of course CEOs love us more today. They don't have to pay us, they don't have to deal with our pesky "rights," and they don't have to worry about local competition.

Recall primary dates approach fast. It's July 12th in some districts, and July 19th in others. Keep fighting. Don't let the bastards get you down. We will take this state back. Stick to your guns. Quit drinking that piss that Miller puts out - buy yourself a sixer of Spotted Cow and be proud of your state. We will take the Senate back this summer, and we will take the governor's office back this fall. Wisconsin will be ours!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Promising Signs in Ohio and at Home!

For fathers' day, Sara and I took her dad up to Frederic to march in a parade for Shelly Moore. Shelly is the next state senator in Wisconsin's district ten. There's a primary against a fake candidate (Republicans are running false Democrats to stall us) on July 12th. Then Shelly goes on to face a general election against Sheila Harsdorf on August 9th. Me and around 50 other people were there to march alongside Shelly Moore. It was great fun throwing out candy and spending time with fellow Wisconsinites.

We had praise and smiles from most people, aside from one old, fat guy who gave us the thumbs down. There was a Harsdorf float about ten spots back from us with about a ten people in her blue shirts. Maybe the fat guy liked them better. To be fair, our chants were loud, we were having fun, and I suppose it looks a bit odd for a political group to actually have a good time together. It's strange - fighting back as with so many friends brings a smile to my face like I've never thought possible.

In other, otherwisconsinly news, it looks like they're fighting back strong in Ohio!
Ohio doesn't have the same recall powers as Wisconsin, but they do have a citizen's referendum. The referendum allows citizens to put adopted legislation up for a vote before it can be enacted. Petitioners had 90 days to collect 232,000 signatures.

On Thursday, [the reporter] visited the "We Are Ohio" booth in the Netroots Nation exhibition hall. I was told to come back tomorrow as they'd be making a big announcement in conjunction with a rally in Columbus. One doesn't call for a public rally to admit failure, so it was fairly easy to guess they'd collected the needed signatures. I returned on Friday shortly after a sign had been hung under the "We Are Ohio" banner. The sign read 714,137: Well above the threshold necessary to protect the petition from challenges to the signatures.

Ohio will now very likely face a referendum on the same collective bargaining issue we face in Wisconsin. Kudos to our brothers and sisters for making this happen. Now they need to get to the polls and take their rights back. It's not over, but this is a great step toward victory, and we should be cheering in solidarity with the folks in Ohio today. They did it there - we can do it here!

We've got work to do. We have recall elections to win this summer. We WILL take our state back, slowly but surely. Democracy takes time. Volunteer when you can, as often as you can, or donate, if you're one of the few people left in the middle class with an extra ten bucks. We need all hands on deck. On July 12th, and August 9th, and the Walker recall, and Governor Feingold come around, I'd like to give the folks in Ohio something something to congratulate us about. Keep fighting - Wisconsin will be ours!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Laws Do Not Apply In Wisconsin

Today, in Wisconsin, our conservative supreme court, bought and paid for by international businessmen, reached the conclusion that open meeting laws only apply to the legislature when it suits some other need. First of all, please, please take fifteen minutes, and read the full decision here:

The real nuggets are in the dissent in this case. The dissenting judges say more about the case specifics than I could possibly say as a part-time blogger. But I will say this, to those of you who oppose the right of teachers to get together and talk about their classroom conditions: You won a case tonight through a hasty, poorly thought-out decision. This decision denies the right of the judicial branch to review legislative process. It says that the legislature is not bound by any rules. According to the dissent, the majority's decision undermines years of precedent, going back to the 1890s. It wildly misrepresents previous cases. Supporting this decision undermines a system of checks and balances that we consider a hallmark of our society, and it makes a farce of our judicial system.

Here's a snippet of the dissent:

119 First, the order misrepresents Milwaukee Journal Sentinel v. Wisconsin Department of Administration, 2009 WI 79, 319 Wis. 2d 439, 768 N.W.2d 700, as not involving the legislature's compliance with a statute. In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel case, the court declared that it had jurisdiction to determine whether the legislature complied with Wis. Stat. § 111.92(1)(a), a statute governing legislative procedure, because that statute furthered the constitutional directives found in Article IV, Section 17(2) of the Wisconsin Constitution.

120 Second, the order fails to acknowledge that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel case explained that a court will interpret and apply a procedural statute to determine whether the legislative action complies "with constitutional directives":

[W]e need not decide whether Wis. Stat. § 111.92(1)(a) is a rule of legislative proceeding because a statute's terms must be interpreted to comply with constitutional directives. Accordingly, even if the statute might otherwise be characterized as a legislative rule of proceeding, we may interpret the statute and apply it to the legislative action to determine whether that action complies with the relevant constitutional mandates. Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803); [State ex rel. La Follette v.] Stitt, 114 Wis. 2d [358, at] 367, [338 N.W.2d 684 (1983)]; McDonald v. State, 80 Wis. 407, 411-12, 50 N.W. 185 (1891).

Therefore, because both Wis. Stat. § 111.92(1)(a) and Article IV, Section 17(2) require the legislature to take additional actions to amend existing law or to create new law, and we have jurisdiction to interpret the Wisconsin Constitution and the Wisconsin Statutes, we have the authority to evaluate legislative compliance with § 111.92(1)(a). Stitt, 114 Wis. 2d at 367, 338 N.W.2d 684. Accordingly, we reject WSEU's argument in this respect, and proceed to determine whether the legislature complied with § 111.92(1)(a) in light of the Wisconsin Constitution.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 319 Wis. 2d 439, ¶¶19, 20 (footnote omitted).

121 Justice Prosser fails to mention the case.

122 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel case was based on at least three earlier cases, all concluding that a court may require the legislature to comply with a legislative procedural rule or statute if the procedural rule or statute furthers a constitutional directive.[13]

123 The order and Justice Prosser's concurrence put in jeopardy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and prior case law that declares that a court may determine whether legislative action in enactment of a law complies with a relevant constitutional directive.

124 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (and its precursors) correctly state the applicable principles of judicial review, the doctrine of separation of powers, and the functions of the legislature and judiciary.

In our haste, we overlooked years of precedent, in order for us to do...what? Make sure Wisconsin is "open for business?" How many more of our laws will we throw to the side, through legislative or judicial fiat, in order for us to become "open for business?" If previous history, constitutional requirements, and judicial review no longer apply, why do we even bother going to the polls? If our legislators fail to respond to us, fail to live up to their own rules, and disregard any dissenting information as "union thuggery," why even bother with the political process? Why don't we just sign away the deeds to our property now, and let Exxon, GE, and Koch industries take over the place. Maybe they'll give us nice jobs and allow us to stay on their land for awhile.

I want to find a way out of this madness. I'd like to say that winning the recall elections this summer is important. It is. I'd love for that to be the end of everything - just one more election, and we're home free. But tonight I realize that this is not the case. It's so far from being the case, that I must say, I'm a bit overwhelmed. We can't win the recall elections and then sit on our hands in 2012. We need to recall our governor. We need to recall the rest of our state senators. We need to go beyond that, though. We need to organize, and we need to do it on a level that hasn't been done in decades. I'm tired just thinking about it. We need to develop platforms every bit as coherent as ALEC and the Heritage Foundation. Every elected position, from alderman to the White House, needs to be seriously scrutinized by US. We simply cannot let politicians continue to slip past into what is apparently now unchecked power. Even in tough districts, we need to fight and win, year after year.

I want so badly to have a metaphor tonight that captures what I feel. But sometimes a metaphor distracts from the real situation. Tonight it's plain to me that the people are not in power here. There are a handful of rich people calling the shots. A staggering percentage of the electorate in our state want to give this handful of rich people control over our schools, highways, parks, and everything else, on the blind faith that their stockholders will manage it better than we can. Right now Governor Walker has an 87% approval rating among Republicans in Wisconsin. He's not unpopular.

Thankfully, the beauty of our system is in our continual progress as a nation. The beauty of human nature is our continuing progress as a species. We can dig our way out of problems. We can organize when we need to organize. We can win victories over the powerful. In fact, what we fail to realize is that they are scaling back the victories we've already won. And though Governor Walker may be popular, remember that even the most successful actions on behalf of organized labor have been notoriously unpopular, despite the benefit they provide.

So how did we win these battles? Was it easy? Did every fight result in a victory? Certainly not. Our grandfathers and grandmothers were beaten, harassed, blacklisted, and put out on the street for the battles on behalf of working men and women. And they still won. We WILL prevail. Small losses like tonight are fuel for our fire. This court decision lays bare their absolute derision of our system of governance. They don't want a check on their power. They want absolute authority. They don't want anyone to stand in their way, even if it means undermining the democracy our grandfathers died to protect. Cheering this victory is cheering the downfall of everything that makes this nation great.

Thankfully we are now together. This spring has energized me and hundreds of thousands of others in Wisconsin. I love seeing our brothers and sisters stepping forward to work for a better future. I think of Tony Schultz and his passion on behalf of farmers in this state. I think of Virginia Welle and her passion for educating students. I think of the unnamed snowplow driver I met in Madison who worked double shifts in the winter to clear our streets. We're ordinary people; unpaid shills working toward the common cause of a better middle class for Wisconsin. We work against billion dollar industries that see our solidarity as a cost to be eliminated.

Our ranks will grow as they continue to disaffect the others in our midst. We will fight together. We will provide others with an outlet for their frustrations. We will put leaders forward that listen to us. We will win hearts and minds first, and elections will follow. I hope you're with me this summer. It's going to be a battle. But it's also going to be great fun, standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters as we take our state back. Tonight, more than ever, we need to stand together and sing. Wisconsin will be ours!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Us

I spent the last four days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The BWCA is a little over a million acres of wilderness, with no logging, mining, or motorized access allowed. Not everyone is familiar with this place, but it's awesome. The Boundary Waters are located in the northeast tip of Minnesota, and stretch into Canada as well. My dad and I have crossed our northern border twice in a canoe. They don't stop you in customs out in the middle of the wilderness, thankfully. We probably had some "contraband" whiskey or tequila with us at the time!

There are hundreds of lakes and 1500 miles of canoe routes that are accessible for the cost of a $12 entry pass. To get between lakes, there are paths called portages. The paddler carries his or her gear over rocky ground, and these paths stretch anywhere from a few feet to two miles, up and down hills. I have been going there since 2001, on and off. During a trip last year, I decided it's something I'm going to try at least once a year from here on out, until I'm too old to paddle anymore.

There's a short history here, and a long history here. Reading this history is amazing. There is a staggering amount of work required by committed individuals to get something like this to happen. Convincing lawmakers of the need to protect this place must have been hard work. Logging was active in the area until 1979. There are iron ore mines within 50 miles of the place - there must be more ore under these lakes. I can almost hear politicians and business owners discussing the need to protect those jobs in the area, and voting against the protective measures.

I've been there in February, July, August, September, and now June. This was my first taste of black fly season. When I say "taste," I mean I literally tasted dozens of little black flies. They were everywhere, swarming all parts of my being, including my eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. They did chase away the mosquitoes, but only in the sun. Our little mosquito friends were content to swarm us in the shade. We were destroyed during each trip to the privy. Even when we were out on the lake, or in a tent, away from the bugs, you could hear the softly constant buzzing noise permeating the woods. Today, back in the office, it's a bit easier to concentrate. I'm not swatting bugs everywhere I go!

We did find that fishing brought relief. There were fewer bugs out on the lake. We also saw a moose, got laughed at by loons, and we had a great view of the northern lights. It's amazing to go back year after year. There was a huge fire in 2006 and another in 2007. The forest is coming back in a big way, though, and it's a real trip to watch the woods in their slow-motion regeneration process. In ten years, the newcomer won't even know it happened, aside from pictures.

I think of the Boundary Waters as Wisconsin considers a new iron ore mine in our state and federally owned forests. The odds are that the powers in our state government support the mine. Everyone wants jobs. I do see how the trade-offs are enticing to some. But I've been in the national forest that they're looking at. It's pristine, it's beautiful, and it's wild. I hope we can somehow come together and demand accountability. I'll take my forests without mining sludge and poisoned rivers, thanks. These forests belong to us. I'd rather not see them sold off and destroyed. The Sierra Club encourages a long review process:

The Sierra Club's mining committee chairman described the mining proposal as a recipe for disaster.

Dave Blouin, mining committee chair, said that “A fast track review process is a recipe for disaster. GTAC’s proposed mine is to be a minimum of four miles of open pit mining and would likely be the largest mine ever in Wisconsin. Open pit iron ore mining is not a benign and clean industry. You need only look to Minnesota’s iron range to see a moonscape of wastes and open pits causing pollution. The mine permitting processes for the Flambeau mine and Crandon proposal demonstrated that the process works. Those mine applications needed years of study and review to determine impacts and design mine facilities that protect air, water, wildlife and public health.”
I'd hate to see us move too quickly on this. This should be a non-partisan issue - conservation extends beyond party lines and gets directly to who we are as human beings. Being a democrat or a republican doesn't seem to matter to us during that moment we're reeling in a northern, or taking in a fire after a long day in the woods. I hope, in the study of this mine, people can come together to make sure we keep Wisconsin clean and safe for generations to come. Wisconsin is ours - that metal underneath her belongs to all of us. We decide who takes it out, how they do it, when they do it, and how much of our blood, sweat, and tears it costs them to take it. It's our place to decide, and I hope those folks we've elected use common sense and good judgment.

I hope you'll keep tabs on this issue with me. I know they're throwing a lot at us right now, but a forest is truly one of those things that won't come back in our lifetime, or maybe even our grand-childrens' lifetimes. Let's keep our woods and water clean!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Political is Personal

Today on my facebook wall:
my little brother graduates from Harvard today, boldly paving the way for all the other idiots in my family to do ridiculous things. "Uh, my brother graduated from Harvard, I THINK I CAN BUILD A BEER BONG.
I'm really proud of him. He attended public school in Minnesota where we grew up, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse with a bachelors in molecular biology. He moved out to Boston for a girl, and found employment in a research lab at Harvard. He was able to work on Parkinson's and ALS research partially funded by one of our boyhood heroes; Kent Hrbek's foundation paid for a portion of his research. Harvard gave him cheap classes as a perk, and he took advantage of it. The girl eventually moved back to Minnesota, but he stayed around to work. Today he gets his masters degree.

He now lives in Baltimore after moving there for a new girl. Mary is pretty and very nice. Pete must have used the sum of his education in deciding to lock that down. This summer the two will get married and begin a life of living happily ever after. Pete was able to find employment in another research lab at Johns Hopkins University, and will be enrolling in classes there at some point after this Harvard thing is all finished.

Congrats today, Pete. You earned it. Thanks to all of Pete's teachers, from Mr. Hoffman to Dr. Galbraith and everyone in between, for taking care of my little brother and whipping his mind into shape. If our local schools can get a Thielen through Harvard, believe me, our education system here in the Midwest is truly amazing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lessons Learned

On Saturday I had a chance to meet with over two dozen leaders of progressive groups, mingle with hundreds of friends in our fight, and listen to some great people speak about the impact we need to have in our communities. This event was called Fighting Bob Fest.

To use a church analogy, I'd say it was more of a fellowship event for the existing congregation than an evangelical event to win new converts. Sometimes that's preferable. I will say I was exhausted at the end of the day- there's just so much to be done. It's great to meet people who are committed to the cause, though. We will take Wisconsin back!

Saturday's event was held at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Chippewa Falls. It was rainy most of the day, but attendance was great. I sat at the booth for a United Wisconsin to Recall Scott Walker ( - sign the pledge!). Throughout the day I met folks from the Sierra Club, Veterans for Peace, The Cornucopia Institute, and The Farmers Union. The Chippewa Workers Group put on a great breakout session. Joel Raney, teacher and blogger, came to the booth and we spoke for about a half an hour about what we can do in our local area. All in all it was so uplifting. The first step in organizing is actually shaking hands and meeting each other, and this event was perfect in that respect.

The one speech is got to see was Tony Schultz from the Farmers Union. Tony is fiery. I don't have a link from his speech on Saturday yet, but here's his speech from Madison.

Tony made a good point in Saturday's speech: Paul Ryan's staff members are required to read Ayn Rand. This fact is celebrated by many. Rand advocated for the superiority of the wealthy classes, and against the have-nots, deriding them as moochers and freeloaders. She felt no sympathy for poor people as they died in the streets - it was their own fault. I think most would agree that her ideas are pretty radical. In direct contrast, anyone on the left that even hints about a Marxist or Socialist policy is run out of town, considered un-serious at best, or dangerous at worst.

We shouldn't be afraid to say what we think. And you know what? I'm done mincing words. I have some "radical" ideas myself that I think need to be shared. Here's one:

Your time on the clock is a commodity, just like a ton of iron ore or a bushel of wheat. You have as much a right to negotiate the price of your commodity as anyone in industry has a right to negotiate for any other commodity. If you want to get together with your coworkers so that you've got greater leverage, that's your basic responsibility, just like it's any business owner's responsibility to get the greatest value for his commodity. You owe it to yourself, your family, and those who depend on you to earn full value for the commodity in your possession. This point is uncontroversial.

You know where I first understood this idea? I read Das Kapital, by Karl Marx. As a historical document it's fascinating, and as a critique of the free market, it's got a lot to offer. The problems he addressed were real. The scales were tilted against the powerless, as they are today. Solutions were Marx's real problem, and it's what we've got to guard ourselves against - the only thing worse than no solution is a bad one. While I don't share Marx's vision of abolishing capital, I like the idea of getting a fair price for my commodity. I also think we are all owed a fair share of the profits we create. I think we all deserve a chance to have our voices heard at the ballot box. Political power shouldn't be limited to rich people. I'm not going to hide from sharing these ideas. We need to be out for new solutions to mend this discrepancy.

Scott Walker is not providing us with new solutions. He's removing the solutions we created earlier - solutions that have turned Wisconsin into the great state you see before you today. We established the right to collective bargaining, easy access to the voting booth, BadgerCare for farmers and our poor, and excellent schools for our children. I don't think most of us ever thought we'd have to fight these fights again. But here we are. I'm so glad to know that there are so many others out there willing to fight.

Saturday was a wonderful time to hear from all kinds of people, from all stripes, about the solutions they are employing to right the balance of power. We're all in this together, farmers, teachers, cops, nurses, and yes, software salesmen! Keep fighting! Wisconsin will be ours!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fighting Bob Fest!

Today I had the pleasure of attending a gathering to promote progressive causes, featuring several speakers and progressive groups throughout Wisconsin. The gathering was held in honor of the great Wisconsin progressive, "Fighting Bob LaFollette." They have Fighting Bob Fest down in his hometown every year, but this year we were treated to our own version.

Right now I'll keep it brief. In the coming days I'll write up a full description for the folks unable to attend. There were so many valuable lessons learned today, and it will take some time to sink in, and even more time will pass before I'm able to articulate things fully.

I regret that I haven't been posting for the past couple of weeks. Life has been busy, and a few things have taken the front seat for awhile. I hope no one will mistake the absence of posts here for apathy. I continue to be so very impressed with the level of understanding our neighbors have on local issues, and I'm convinced that Wisconsin will be ours if we continue to fight for it.

More to come!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Big News in LaCrosse!

So, tonight, this happened:

Dem wins Wis. Assembly seat previously held by GOP

Associated Press - May 3, 2011 11:05 PM ET

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Democrat Steve Doyle defeated Republican John Lautz for the Wisconsin District 94 Assembly, flipping a seat held by Republicans for 16 years in a race that focused attention on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to curtail collective bargaining right for most public employees.

With 92% of precincts reporting, Doyle won 54% to 46%, based on unofficial results in Tuesday's special election. The race flips a GOP Assembly seat for the Democrats, who remain in the minority.

The seat was previously held by Mike Huebsch, who Walker picked in January to serve as secretary of administration. Huebsch was first elected in 1994.

The district covers rural La Crosse County and parts of Monroe County.

This is huge for us. I'm so proud of the state-wide solidarity we're showing in this effort. His days are numbered. Soon we will take back the Senate. Keep fighting, Wisconsin. Keep working hard. Good people in every corner of this state are stepping up to fight back - when you see people in La Crosse and Monroe County stepping up, remember their fight, and work hard in your town. Every victory we win locally is a win for everyone in our state. Doesn't it feel good to know that sympathetic brothers and sisters live around every corner, coulee, hollow, valley, and hilltop in Wisconsin? We can maintain this joy with hard work, smiling at the billionaires as we keep our money here, instead of letting it flow into their pockets.

We hold all the cards here. We are a machine, well organized, thoughtful, happy, and strong. Our power is limited only by our own willingness to show up to elections, hearings, town meetings, and neighborhood events. Remember, history is written by those who show up. We will show up whenever and wherever we can. It's that easy. We can make Wisconsin a state where the middle class is the special interest group politicians have to worry about. Politicians, let it be known: If you want to win an election in Wisconsin, you've got to come through us first.

Not every battle will end in victory. Sometimes they will take a step from us as we move forward. But if tonight is any evidence, we've got them on the ropes. They spent a ton of money in that district - I don't know the totals - and we still won. Keep showing up, keep working, keep talking to your neighbors, keep yourselves informed about the issues, and before you know it, Wisconsin will be ours!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kenosha: Another Reminder

So, we saw this happen last week:

350 Kenosha Teachers Get Layoff Notices

Superintendent Michelle Hancock said, “These are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary measures,” adding the options is to cut spending or raise taxes.

From a friend (let's call him "Leonard") in the Kenosha School District:

So... Everybody knows about the budget bill by now. Everybody has their own opinions on it. Thursday was doomsday in my school districts. Lay-off notices were given.

Before I break it down, I will say that our new superintendent has been [an unwilling partner in negotiations]. Our union tried going to the school board and superintendent to make big concessions to avoid this many layoffs, but both of them refused to even meet.

We are losing 25 teachers in my school despite gaining an extra 400 students next year.
We are going from 3 gym teachers to 2 next year. 2 gym teachers for 2400 students.

Another high school in our district (tremper) is losing 33+, including 9 of 15 english teachers. I am certified to teach english and had hoped that might happen some day. After thursday it is now clear that it won't be happening any time soon.

All in all they will be laying off 375 of 2000 teachers. I'm happy I don't have'd suck to send a son/daughter to elementary school knowing they are going to be in a class of 40-50. ugh.

And yes, the union implemented the seniority system. I agree with seniority. I don't always agree with my union. The unions in public ed are both the best and worst things for public ed. they can help keep class sizes down (not anymore) but they also prevent the shitty teacher from being fired (again, not in this case). I can tell you that there are a lot of teachers in their first four years who [might be] better than those being kept on. but...even though there will be no collective bargaining, they will still hold their jobs.

This has nothing to do with unions and never will. Until someone comes up with right system to hold teachers accountable (a system that includes prior student performance, quality of parents, rate of student improvement, and classroom/resource conditions...among many other things) the system will be [messed up]. I used to laugh at public school teachers who send their kids to private school...but I applaud them these days. Public ed in Wisconsin is becoming one helluva joke. Our state used to take pride in our educational values. suddenly we have a college drop-out governor and things go to hell. and he (walker) still refuses to release his college transcripts. It's a joke. I bet it was econ 101 that he failed.

carry on....rant over.

Another reminder: This effects real people. Our teachers are just like anyone else - trying to do their job well. Taking pride in their work. Believing that a strong work ethic brings about positive change. We all believe that, but through the power of the legislature, and nearly 50% of the public supporting them, this is the kind of message we show Leonard.

For some hidden economic reason, we need to do this. No one even seems to question it anymore. Hell, Paul Ryan even spelled it out. Remember the Krugman post on April 4th?

Here’s the [Paul Ryan]’s explanation of how layoffs would create jobs: “A smaller government work force increases the available supply of educated, skilled workers for private firms, thus lowering labor costs.” Dropping the euphemisms, what this says is that by increasing unemployment, particularly of “educated, skilled workers” — in case you’re wondering, that mainly means schoolteachers — we can drive down wages, which would encourage hiring.

There is, if you think about it, an immediate logical problem here: Republicans are saying that job destruction leads to lower wages, which leads to job creation. But won’t this job creation lead to higher wages, which leads to job destruction, which leads to ...? I need some aspirin.
We kill the unions, and defund the schools, so we can do what, exactly? Instead of doing, say, anything else, like increasing a tax somewhere, my buddy "Leonard" has to sit and watch all of this happen.

I didn't talk to Leonard long today. We swapped stories a bit. One day this spring we happened to be in Madison on the same day. As we got done talking, he said this:
let me know if i can help in any way.
Before you go thinking of Leonard as some sort of martyr who is dying for the cause, let it be known that this is a question many of us have asked of each other this spring. We've made history in Wisconsin. We will continue to pitch in and turn the state around. Leonard does not need to live his professional life in fear that he will not be able to pay his bills. We can work together and bring about the change we want to see. But it all starts with the big question that we need to continue ask each other: let me know if i can help in any way.

If we continue with this drive, this energy, and this dedication, we will take our state back. Wisconsin will be ours!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Difficult Elections Ahead

The deadline for recalls approaches fast for all candidates. I'm very interested to see how this all goes. It's clear that these elections are not going to be a walk in the park. We've done the difficult work of gathering signatures. Now we need to get folks out to vote. This will be no simple task.

We also have Democrats being recalled. These are also going to be uphill battles. The groups that have been pounding on doors for the past several weeks have an advantage in their district. They've been in front of people, out on the streets talking to voters. This helps us, but it also helps them.

We worked hard on the recalls. We'll need to fight even harder in the elections. There will be no easy victories for us. We can be proud that we've put up a good fight so far. We'll be even happier when we win. This can go from being a hard-fought loss to an overwhelming victory. It will take all of us to pull it off. We can do it, Wisconsin!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pat Yourselves on the Back, 10th District!

It's been a very satisfying spring. We managed to grab enough signatures for our fourth recall. The announcement was tonight in Menomonie at the HQ. The place was packed to the hilt, and there were cupcakes, brownies, chips and mild salsa (it is the midwest, after all). And of course there were a few bottles of Leinies floating around. It's Wisconsin, people.

Our friend Virginia (you may remember her from my very first blog post here!) posted the video here:

The atmosphere was jubilant. We knew the "special announcement" would be good news. The great news was the number of signatures we'd collected. Bob Salt, lead organizer for the Menomonie office, delivered the news. We have obtained over 20,000 signatures. Somewhere the media right now has the full number. We needed just over 15,000 to clear the hurdle. This is yet another campaign where we've gotten over 150% of the signatures needed.****

This is not over. Rumor is the Recall Darling people are about to file. We may be able to get Cowles. They may get enough signatures against some Democrats as well. So it's not over by a long shot. The next fight will be in the elections this summer. I'm confident that we can beat them with our organization. This is a movement that will not be stopped, and these are now people who are dear friends. We know each other well. We've taken verbal abuse, we've had doors slammed in our faces, punches to the gut, middle fingers, and stolen petitions. Some of us have already lost 5 or 10 grand a year in salary. We've already been through the fire. We will not stop now. We will keep our foot on the gas pedal and we will come out on the winning side this summer. We'll have the Senate before the leaves turn. Think about that, Wisconsin!

Tonight is time for celebration in the tenth district. Tomorrow is a different story. Tomorrow is another battle that needs to be won. I knew we could win this one, and I know we will win the next one. We will bring the 10th back to the people. We will bring our state back to the people. We will work hard, we will hit the streets, we will turn out the vote, and we will get our voices back. Wisconsin will be ours!

**** a note from my friend Shawn, who helped immensely on the signature gathering in the 10th: "20,000 is 133% of 15,000. Just sayin' :)"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From Monticello to Menomonie - Small World!

I am honored to say that I spent the afternoon with a gentleman by the name of Jim, whose last name ends with a "son," and starts with either Guller or Geller or Gellef or Gellec...something like that...ANYWAY....

Jim is one of those folks that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to - especially those of my friends who know anyone working in the school district of my hometown in Monticello.

Jim and I, along with a crew of a half dozen other teachers, went to Star Prairie, WI today to gather signatures for the final push in the Recall Sheila Harsdorff campaign. We drove in Jim's minivan from Menomonie, which was about a 20 minute drive. He and I got to talking, and I told him where I was from, why I was personally concerned, and why I was volunteering. Jim talked about his time in the service, and working for the post office, and also about his time as a teacher. We swapped stories for a bit, and finally Jim said, "Ok, I'm going to let you in here." He paused for a second.

"I taught at Monticello. In 1962, I was one of the organizers who got the American Federation of Teachers union (AFT) started there. We did get the union in but the district fired me as soon as the vote came through." Jim went on to tell me about the AFT and its victories on behalf of teachers that it has now become known for. He was very proud of the work the AFT has done. As the day went on he told me about how he wished he could spend more time fighting, how it never seemed enough, and how difficult it was to sit back and watch without engaging on behalf of the community.

I sympathize with him, and I think many of us can feel that sense of fatigue this spring. This is part of the reason I took last week off from this blog. I have an unhelpfully angry screed that I had half-typed up - forget it. I think it's amazing that we almost beat Prosser. My earlier post still holds true. I also want to give the lady in Waukesha the benefit of the doubt. I think she's incompetent, and needs to resign. She shouldn't be counting anything, based on her previous performance. I don't think she stole the election on purpose. It has been tough for me to stay on the sidelines as people on our side allege fraud and conspiracy. It will be much easier after we've conducted a full investigation to look back in hindsight, but for some reason I'm still assuming good intentions on this lady's part. But enough about that. We'll have recall elections soon enough!

After our time today, I thought about Jim a bit more. Jim lost his job so that others could have a union. He stood up and fought for fair wages and classroom conditions, staked his reputation on the cause, and paid a cost. As we sit here now in relative comfort, within a state that has a more-than-above-average education system and 96% health care coverage, let's not forget that this wasn't an accident. People worked for this, and if they had stopped, not much of what we see today would have ever came to pass.

Jim is part of a generation that fought for us. He still fights today. He still wonders if he could do more. He writes letters to the editor, knocks on doors, and has polite conversations with those who may disagree. He supports those of us young whipper-snappers who are out to continue the fight. It is for Jim that I went out today, but it's also for the yet-to-be-born....those that will someday put up with me as I turn up my hearing aid and find my prescription sunglasses in my jacket.

Jim can be proud of what he's worked for, and I think someday we'll be proud of our fight as well. We fight a good fight, and if we keep it up, Jim is living proof that we can and will win some huge victories. We can be proud then, but I think we should already be happy with ourselves. We've come together this spring and as long as we keep showing up, we will take back the Senate this summer. Then we can start with Walker next year, and take back the executive branch as well. But don't wait for it - work for it! Wisconsin will be ours!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Open Letter to Senator Terry Moulton

Senator Moulton,

Last week, my hometown newspaper published a relatively benign column I wrote regarding unions and their attempted representation of the middle class. The column has already received a number of comments, both supporting and opposing the words I'd written. One in particular caught my eye, from "Terry in Wisconsin." For a number of reasons, Senator Moulton, this made me think of you. I have no way of knowing if this was actually you who commented. Here's what "Terry" had to say:
"Question. If the unions are fighting for us? Why did they put out a directive to boycott many of the businesses in Wisconson. They told businesses if they are not for the unions i.e. against Gov.Walker their business would be boycotted. The directive went on to say "If you are nuetral it is the same as being against the union" and you too will be boycotted. Call me crazy Joe, but this does not sound like someone fighting for me a business owner and employer. "
"Terry from Wisconsin" seems nervous about unions threatening his business and its co-workers. I can see why. There has been a great deal of fear spread in recent weeks about threatened boycotts. I do think it's sad that we've come to this. It's an impasse that could easily be ended with good dialogue. So to this, I'd like to address you, Senator Terry Moulton, even though I'm in Vinehout's district.

You're a small business owner, and unfortunately, you're physically located right next to a couple of big box chains that sell much of what you already have. You've already got the deck stacked against you. The question is, why stack it against yourself even further? I can go to Scheel's or Farm and Fleet for much of the tackle and archery equipment you sell. I might even be able to get a better deal.

Public workers and their sympathizers represent a sizable segment of your market. Supporting them loses you nothing, and quite possibly gains you the business of all of those people. In fact, in our current climate, with tensions this high, union-supporting businesses are garnering a good deal of positive attention from folks like me. I feel bad about this, but I didn't know Mouldy's existed until this all started. If you would have come out in favor of our teachers and snowplow drivers, I may have taken a special trip over there instead of heading to Scheel's.

I really like supporting small businesses, and yours could have been one that I patronized religiously. I do the same with Brickhouse Music in Eau Claire. If I need anything guitar-related, I ask them first. I could maybe get guitar strings cheaper somewhere, but I know that my purchase keeps them in business just a little longer. It's worth it for all of us to have them around. Their workers are musicians in our community who care whether or not my guitar sounds cool when I play at The Mousetrap. I'm sure, just like them, your workers care if I have a good time using the products you sell at Mouldy's. I bet there are plenty of great and ridiculous fishing stories swapped over the counter at your store.

You have a chance to bring in countless people just like me, simply by putting your name on a dotted line. Supporting the teachers in our town could be the greatest business decision you ever make. Thousands of people would know you stood up for them when their backs were against the wall. I sincerely doubt you'd lose any business from constituents on the other side of the political fence. Who stops shopping at a store because the store supports teachers?

This is your chance to be a hero to the people.

They would remember you forever as the guy who thought twice before taking thousands of dollars from every teacher in the state in the midst of a recession. They'd remember you as the guy who said, "You know what? These are my neighbors here. We ought to be on the same side." Instead, you're "ruining their business," as they're threatening to ruin yours.

Perhaps none of us have seen this as a possible a win-win situation, but it sincerely could be just that. I'm sure if your sister was a teacher, you wouldn't want her to suffer. And if any of us had a brother working at your store, we wouldn't want him to lose his job over this. If you focused on the common bond we all have as community members, you'd know that we really do want to support you and your employees, just as you really do have our long-term personal interests at heart.

We should be building each other up, and instead we're fighting over scraps. This divisiveness hurts our whole community. There's no need to put you on one side and teachers on another. We're all one family. We need to work together if we want to keep Wisconsin great.

I'll close with this: I have no control here. I don't live in your district. I'm just one guy typing on a blog from Eau Claire. I'm not a union negotiator, and I only belonged to one union in my life - for 8 months as a grocery cashier in high school. I've got no power to change anything. You do have that power. You hold in your own hands the power to both improve your own bottom line, the lives of your employees, and the lives of the teachers, snowplow drivers, shop mechanics, and corrections officers in your own neighborhood. It's up to you, Senator.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Keeping Things in Perspective

My friend Adam and I had some words on Facebook today. Adam was responding to a comment thread today. This is a bit complicated, but the comment thread was about a different comment thread. That different comment thread was about this column.

The comments themselves are interesting. They're essentially the reason I don't have comments on this blog. The Jared fellow starts off with, "the nut seldom falls that far from the tree," which would be a slander on my dad. If you remember, he worked for local governments for years.

I'm not really out to convince Jared. What he's not aware of is the level of energy he brings to friends of ours that are actually suffering. Adam was one of those folks today that saw this and became stirred. Well, maybe "stirred" is a polite way of saying it...

Adam immediately wrote the following:

My mom is in the teacher's union and being forced to retire. For one, this is the ONLY way she can keep her insurance. And now, at the worst possible time, the company my dad worked for sold off his division. They simply fired everyone as the purchasing company didn't need anymore employees. So basically, my mom and dad will both be searching for work this summer. I can't blame the bad economy on Walker, but I can personally say that if he hadn't come to power my family wouldn't be so bad off. Just love the Republican philosophy that more unemployed poor people will somehow fix the economy.

More later:

My dad work for more than 25 years for the same company, before this current one bought them out. 10 years later, this company basically just sells the customer base and equipment, secretly, and tells the employees they are all fired. 35+ years, and this is the first time my dad has been fired. My mom has worked in the same classroom for most of my adult life. She actually worked there before I was born, but took a few years off to be a stay at home mom until I was old enough to go to school. For the last 25~ish years my mom has worked with "special needs" teenagers, and come home day after day with bruises, black eyes, human bites, and one incredibly tired back. Now, thanks to Walker and the Republicans, if my mom works even one more year she will lose almost all her retirement benefits. That's one big "thank you" from the state that she gave so much to for so little in return.

At times it blows my mind how some people can't see what's happening right around them. I sometimes think if Rush Limbaugh called "water" liberal, people would just sit dumbfounded as their house burned down around them. This whole year has been one of those times.

In a way, this particular series of events today has been instructive. First of all, I guess I sort of forgot that my hometown paper is smack-dab in the middle of Michelle Bachmann's district. We threw one in behind enemy lines last week, and I shouldn't be surprised that some of the readers don't agree. But we also know where our hearts are. In the end, they're with our friends and neighbors.

Adam was a co-worker of mine for nearly 10 years and we know each other very well. The recent happenings in our state have hit Adam's family straight in their chest. It hurts even more to be kicked while you're down, and called lazy, selfish, and every other name in the book. I'm sure Adam's parents did nothing to deserve this treatment. Anonymous folks out there on the internet are free to imply that they're freeloaders, and argue that if Adam supported freedom, he'd agree that his parents need to quit whining.

We know the truth. We know that we need to stick up for each other, and not tear each other down with insults. We know that we may not convince the Jareds of the world, but we sure as hell can lend a hand when our neighbors need help. We need to keep ourselves armed with facts, be willing to question authority, and also be gracious in defeat. We need to smile, time after time, pick ourselves up off the ground, and keep fighting. This is what our grandparents did in their struggle for workers rights. We will carry our momentum forward and take Wisconsin back. We will help not only ourselves, but Jared, and all of our other brothers and sisters struggling to make ends meet. Wisconsin will be ours!

A Strong Showing, Either Way!!

What a night that was! Many of us were awake until the AP stopped reporting. Not much sleep! The first official count is now in, and out of nearly 1.5 MILLION votes, Kloppenburg won by 204.

First of all, preliminary rumors are that 10,000 + signatures were collected at polls across the state today. That on its own is awesome. We used the day to keep the snowball rolling. The more we bring in to the cause, the bigger the block we'll be. If there are enough of us, and we band together as a unified group politically, politicians will have to worry equally about us as they do about the Teabaggers when making their decisions.

The AP reports Kloppenburg victories in the following counties Walker won last fall:
Adams County
Chippewa County
Columbia County
Dunn County
Grant County
Iron County
Jackson County
Juneau County
LaCrosse County
LaFayette County
Lincoln County
Monroe County
Pierce County
Richland County
Sauk County
Vernon County
Washburn County
Wood County

Look at that list again. It's friggin' huge. Eighteen counties. 18! Today Scott Walker apparently said this election proved that there's more to the state than Madison. If that's true, I'm certainly willing to take his word for it. We've done well here, people.

On a Tuesday in April, we set records for voter turnout in a judge's race. Eau Claire had nearly 16,000 votes for Kloppenburg. By contrast, we had around 18,000 for Walker during the 2010 governor's race.

Even the counties that didn't quite pull it out were amazing. Florence County only had 688 votes for Democratic Candidate Tom Barrett last election. In a turnout that was probably half their normal rate, they managed 483 votes for Kloppenberg. Barron County had over 8,000 votes for Walker. They turned out barely 4,707 for Prosser, while Kloppenberg got 4,640 votes - nearly 70% of the votes that Barrett got last fall. Sawyer County tossed 2,650 votes toward Barrett last election, and 1,800 toward Kloppenburg this spring.

The folks up there didn't win their counties, but we heard their voices, loud and clear. If you know someone in that area, be sure to let them know that their struggles are worth every moment. Quite obviously, we've got a lot of folks that disagree with us. But we're making some very strong headway. The important thing is that we stick together, continue to hone our political chops, and keep moving ahead.

It's clear that we still have a lot of work to do. There will be a recount. It takes many volunteers to go through this process, and it's yet another place where we can make inroads with independents if we honestly and faithfully carry out the process. If we manage to hold our own heads up, and challenge honest discrepancies, we again will emerge the victors. I can't stress this enough, though - we need to be the sane people at recounts.

And of course, we need to continue pounding on doors for the recall elections going on. We showed up very strongly in those districts, and if we want to win those elections, we need to continue to put in that time and effort, house by house and block by block.

We've come very far in this state in just a few short months. We are bound together as one community - one huge voting block. Once again, I'm in love with Wisconsin. We can and will overcome the odds, and Wisconsin will be ours!

Vote, Vote, Vote!

I probably don't need to send a reminder, but I must say today I'm very excited/nervous for the outcome of the Supreme Court in Wisconsin. History is decided by the folks that show up!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Destroying Jobs Creates....Jobs?

Paul Krugman had an on-the-money piece on the 31st that warrants a read.

Republicans, because they tend to posture themselves as businessmen, tend to think they own the economic debate. Don't let them fool you - they own the debate insofar as they tend to win arguments that favor their pocketbooks.

Paul Krugman is the antidote I typically look for in such a debate. I had the fortune of being required to take two econ classes in my studies at SCSU, and while I didn't love the professors, I did learn a lot about the arguments economists often use in debate. Paul Krugman has become very adept at using textbook economic theory against its typical benefactors. His standard question is "Where's your model?" It's so rare that politicians ever show their math in economic decisions. Look no further than Scott Walker. Krugman's got a Nobel Prize in Economics, for good measure. He also tends to break things down in wonderful layman's terms. Case in point:

Here’s the report’s explanation of how layoffs would create jobs: “A smaller government work force increases the available supply of educated, skilled workers for private firms, thus lowering labor costs.” Dropping the euphemisms, what this says is that by increasing unemployment, particularly of “educated, skilled workers” — in case you’re wondering, that mainly means schoolteachers — we can drive down wages, which would encourage hiring.

There is, if you think about it, an immediate logical problem here: Republicans are saying that job destruction leads to lower wages, which leads to job creation. But won’t this job creation lead to higher wages, which leads to job destruction, which leads to ...? I need some aspirin.

So, today, hat-tip to Paul Krugman for keeping them honest for one more day!

Let's also not forget: Dan Kapanke's getting recalled! Hallelujah for that, and kudos to all of our brothers and sisters who helped overcome the first hurdle down there in LaCrosse. Rumor has it that Hopper and Harsdorff are also on the cusp. Great news! Wisconsin will be ours!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Unions still fight for the rest of us

As promised, the Guest Column from the Monticello Times. An excerpt: seems odd that we question the validity of the entire organized labor movement due to their mistakes over time. After all, corporate power often mistakes ethics for profit, and its validity is never questioned. Look no further than Enron, the banking scandal or the Gulf oil spill. If we were to apply the same standard to corporate power, where would we be? Even after nearly taking the nation into a second Great Depression over the past 36 months, most people would agree that we still need a finance industry. Why hold unions to a different standard?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Moving Forward!

It's been awhile! So much to say...

Watching the court battle unfold this week has been illuminating. It is clear that the Republicans have violated the open meeting law. We knew that from the start, and the judge has all but to spell it out for us. What is so amazing is the sheer determination by Republicans to head straight off the cliff and try to enact this bill, despite the injunction against its implementation by Judge Sumi. I have to think eventually even supporters of this bill will recognize the ineptitude that a group of ideologues tend to bring into government. When God is on your side, what use is law?

LaFollette is clearly on their enemies list. Fightin' Doug waited the statutory limit to publish the bill, and when he refused (because he was blocked by the court order), the Republicans went ahead and attempted to publish it anyway. This was basically meaningless, but who cares? They tried to say it was law this weekend, until the judge brought the hammer down yesterday. They even went so far as to begin implementing the law. Judge Sumi was not pleased about this on Tuesday.

Additionally, when he was being represented in court, the state's attorney (assigned by the Walker administration) was essentially refusing to represent him, and not asking questions of witnesses on his behalf. The judge decided it was a conflict of interest to have the Walker administration provide him counsel. Fighting Doug will now get an independent lawyer, paid for by the state.

Now they're saying, "Well, she didn't specifically tell us who needs to stop."

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has advised Walker that because Sumi didn't specifically name the administration in her order barring further action on the law, it can proceed with the payroll changes.

Friday's hearing should be great fun, and I wish I could be there for it. Judge Sumi has to be quite upset about the way this is being handled.

Let's be clear, though: The long game here may very well end up with us losing these bargaining rights for a bit. The legislature could easily go back and vote again. We need to keep that in mind, even as the Kabuki theater plays out in front of us. Yes, they're being exposed as even bigger ideologues, but at the end of the day, they're in power.

Which bring me to better news: I canvassed for the recall of Sheila Harsdorff on Saturday last weekend. What a great time! I would encourage anyone who is concerned about our state to head to your nearest petitioning center and get involved. There's no pick-me-up like the one that comes from pitching in with your neighbors.

I had the pleasure of working with a special-ed teacher from Eau Claire and a kindergarten teacher from Durand as we walked through the neighborhoods of Menomonie. It was cold, and I was a bit under the weather, but we had a great time! The organization in Menomonie was so masterfully done, people were in great spirits, and many of the neighborhood folks had already signed. We did manage to get our page halfway full in just an hour. I topped it off with a delicious meal cooked by the Boyceville teachers, and headed home to rest. (ugh, I was sick!).

A rumor started on Saturday morning about Randy Hopper. Apparently, they've got nearly the number of signatures they need to recall him. Organizers were quick to quash the rumor, for fear that volunteers would drop off. What an amazing thing, though! We're only 3 weeks in, if that, and we've got one almost down! Just a couple more will tip the scales in our favor this summer.

I'm also excited to see the turnout for Kloppenburg. She's against some pretty steep odds, as she barely scratched the surface in the last election. Make no mistake, it's going to take a lot of us getting out there on the 5th to stop Prosser from being another rubber stamp on Walker's legislative priorities. I'm convinced we can pull it off, though. Let's move Wisconsin forward!

Lastly, the Monticello Times, my hometown paper in Minnesota, was kind enough to run a guest column of mine. It will appear in tomorrow's paper. It's an answer to the question, "Are Unions Still Relevant." I answer in the negative. What!?!?! Sadly, I think it's becoming true. The entire initial justification for unions was the need for all workers to unite, in order to provide protection for the middle class. With the union movement dwindling, the middle class is beginning to lose our grip on many of our hard-earned rights. Our standard of living is under attack. Our kids' schools are under attack. We're losing the battle. Without action, the power of the billionaires will not be stopped, and they will continue to transfer our wealth into their pockets. I don't think it's a coincidence that they've succeeded as well as they have while union involvement continues to drop.

Unions were a wonderful solution to a problem that needed solving. I think they could easily have a positive impact now. It used to be a pretty clear concept. I think that's been lost, mostly due to a well-oiled propaganda machine, but also in part to honest failures by unions to evolve and adapt to a changing climate. We're the dog that caught the car, and didn't know what to do with it. Unions were one solution, but they don't have to be the only solution. We live in a fluid world. You never stand in the same river twice.

The single most important thing for us is remembering that we're all in this together. We need to continue to look out for entire community, union and non-union. Your neighbor, the non-union engineer, deserves the same living wage that you do as a union teacher. His kids deserve healthcare just like yours, and we all deserve better. The cops ought to protect both of you equally. The road in front of his house should be plowed just like yours. The more we stress that, the better. Do we deserve something for nothing? Of course not. But we all deserve a chance. We definitely deserve the ability to provide for our kids if we work for it. We all deserve a shot at a good future.

We use to refer to that attitude as "family values." Now it's called socialism. Our grandparents supported one another in their rise against the billionaires of their time. The easy way to do that was to respect each others' professions by supporting their respective trade unions in times of trouble. It was a system that worked quite effectively. But what about now?

Even as I say this, people all over Wisconsin are banding together in unity. It's happening organically, like nothing I've experienced. We are working as one big, happy family, in support of each other. I look forward to the day we get to march back into the capitol building, when it's finally ours again.The onerous security procedures will be gone, the billionaires will have to ask politely before taking our stuff again, and we will never forget this spring. Wisconsin will be ours, so long as we continue to fight for her.