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Live Reporting from the Wisconsin Protests
Madison, Wisconsin's Indymedia is offline right now.
However the IMC in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is still online: http://mke.indymedia.org
and the Center for Media and Democracy in Wisconsin is doing continuous breaking non-corporate coverage @ http://prwatch.org/news/2011/02/9944/live-reporting-wisconsin-protests
Here is some of the latest breaking news- there is too much information to post here:
Since Tuesday, February 15, tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents have been flooding the State Capitol in Madison in protest of Governor Walker's proposed budget "repair" bill that would end 50 years of collective bargaining for Wisconsin workers. CMD reporters are out providing live coverage of these historic events. Votes scheduled for Thursday, February 17 and Friday, February 18 have been delayed, and protests continue through the weekend. Send your stories, photos and videos to us at: PR Watch Editor!
On Friday, CMD submitted an open records request to Governor Walker's office for all incoming and outgoing telephone calls made since he has taken office, and will follow up with additional requests over the next week. Keep an eye on PRWatch.org for updates.
Schedule for Wednesday, February 23, 2011
12:00 p.m. - Rally at the State Capitol
12:00 p.m. - Picket line blocking Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce meeting at the Monona Terrace
5:00 p.m. - Rally at State Capitol
Sleep over at the Capitol: TAA Union will provide dinner at 7:00 p.m., doors close at 10:00 p.m.
For the latest schedule and bus service schedules across the state please check WEAC's website or Wisconsin AFSCME's website, or call the Center for Media and Democracy at 608-260-9713 for more information.
8:21 p.m. - Erica Pelzek reports:
Standing at 284 feet tall, the Wisconsin Capitol has long drawn comparison to the United States Capitol building. And for good reason, in fact. The grand Wisconsin Capitol is only three feet shorter than the United States Capitol. State law even requires buildings within one mile of the Wisconsin Capitol not be taller than the building's pillars supporting its dome. And it's topped with a beautiful, gilded-bronze "Lady Wisconsin" statue at its apex, much like the U.S. Capitol's bronze Statue of Freedom.
Inside, the Wisconsin Capitol is open to the public 365 days a year, encouraging Wisconsinites and out-of-towners to wander in awe and gawk at the Capitol's hand-carved furniture and impressive Rotunda, not to mention the incredible domed Rotunda ceiling.
The Capitol has seen many transformations over the decades, including a massive fire in 1904 and an 11-year rebuild from 1906-1917.
And now, since protesters began spending the night in the Wisconsin State Capitol Wed., Feb. 15, the majestic building has transformed again—organically—into a home away from home for Wisconsinites.
No longer simply a physical reminder of their presence in Wisconsin's capital city or a beautiful, cool place to walk through on a hot Farmer's Market Saturday, the Capitol has become a living, breathing, bubbling and toiling brew of democracy. The people spending these past several days in it—the working Wisconsin families, college students, firefighters, police officers and many others—are its bastions, its bulwarks, its buttresses.
Political signs hung with blue tape, so as not to damage the Capitol's gorgeous marble pillars and walls, have become a sort of revolutionary wallpaper throughout the building. Corners of the vast Wisconsin house have morphed into nooks for medical clinics, buffets of donated food, makeshift sleeping areas, quiet study "rooms" and information stations for new-arrival protesters.
Sparkly streamers and notes of support don Democratic legislators' office doors, and caricatures of Walker and Republican state legislators find prominent placement on the Capitol's enormous hallways pillars. A Liberty Bell replica becomes a focal point, sprouting signs discussing constitutional rights, including the rights of workers to organize and bargain for their wages, hours and workplace conditions.
Children run freely in the hallways, fetching more crayons and toys from the grassroots volunteer information booths that have popped up. Their parents sip coffee and converse with other protesters, clutching signs or propping them up on their empty strollers.
This is what democracy looks like.
6:45 p.m. - Erica Pelzek reports:
The Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill battle rages on, with Gov. Scott Walker continuing to refuse to compromise with Democratic Senators and public sector employees over collective bargaining rights.
"They gave him the money," said Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, of Wisconsin public workers' willingness to pay higher health care premiums and pensions if allowed to retain their collective bargaining rights under Gov. Scott Walker's Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill. Miller was televised from a press conference in Chicago, Ill. immediately after Walker's 6:00 p.m. "fireside chat."
Borrowing Franklin Delano Roosevelt's term, Walker's "chat" reiterated his stance on the proposed Budget Repair Bill: this argument is about money and the State of Wisconsin budget.
After referencing a woman with an autistic child, a Wisconsin teacher and middle-class private sector employees, including his brother and sister-in-law, who stand by the budget repair bill, Walker finally addressed the issue of collective bargaining rights for unionized workers.
"The system is broken," Walker said, implying that former Gov. Jim Doyle's tax raises were a short-term fix to a long-term budgetary problem.
And so, by "addressing" collective bargaining rights, Walker threatened 1,500 state employee layoffs by the beginning of June, with 5-6,000 more layoffs possible after June if the Budget Repair Bill is not passed by that time.
He spent the rest of the "chat" lambasting Democratic State Senators, insisting that they "need to come home" and "do the jobs they were elected to do"—be on the Senate floor to pass legislation that would, effectively, eliminate 50 years of collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin.
Sen. Miller, D-Monona, noted that the unions have repeatedly said they are willing to make pension and insurance concessions but not give up their collective bargaining rights: "This is a compromise that any good leader should be able to recognize and see," said Sen. Miller.
UW-Madison Political Science Professor Charles Franklin appeared on Channel 3000 after Sen. Miller's press conference, admitting that Walker "offered no olive branch, no concessions" to the workers of Wisconsin.
6:00 p.m. - WISCONSIN 14 CUT OFF FROM THEIR PAYCHECKS Mary Bottari reports from the WI Capitol Building -- The WI Senate voted to implement a new Senate Rule that if you miss two days of floor action you must come to pick up your paycheck in person. In other words, they have just cut off the Wisconsin 14 from their paychecks. Ouch.
6:00 p.m. - Brendan Fischer reports:
As the governor delivered his "fireside chat" from his conference room, protestors within the packed capitol building once again created a thunderous roar of chanting, drumming, and vuvuzela-ing. Televisions were set up in the rotunda to show Governor Walker's talk, and though speakers were apparently broadcasting his message, nothing could be heard above the chants of the protestors ("you're fired! you're fired!" "kill the bill!" "the people, united, will never be divided!"). The image of Governor Walker's lips moving noiselessly onscreen above the roar of the crowd was certainly a strange sight. As soon as the message ended and Walker's face disappeared from the screen, the protestors erupted in cheers that somehow managed to surpass their previous sonic levels.
5:30 p.m. - Mary Bottari: Debra Kohwey of Deerfield High School hold's a sign that says "Governor Walker I taught Conflict Resolution Today, Do You Need a Lesson?" at today's 5:00 p.m. rally. I asked her what the key to successful conflict resolution was and she responded, "first you have to be willing to listen, then you need to set up a win-win situation where both sides can feel good. All the unions have said that it is not about money and we are willing to make concessions, now it is Governor Walker's turn. It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss characters that stand toe to toe, face to face and they won't budge while the whole world changes around them. This time one party is willing to do more, but the other is not."
5:17 p.m. - Brendan Fischer reports that there is a huge turn out for the 5:00 p.m. rally. Announced March 2nd Day of Action nationally.
5:00 p.m. - SCARY OUTSIDE AGITATORS Mary Bottari reports: A number of times today in interviews and in his "Fireside Chat" Gov. Walker mentioned that he was not concerned for his security when it came to Wisconsin workers, but there were out-of-town protestors here -- some even from Illinois -- that raise security concerns for him. I put on my snow boots and went to the 5:00 p.m. rally to find these dangerous outside agitators. After weaving through the crowd of Madison teachers, kids and students and searching high and low, I found one! I bumped into Meg Matzke from Minnessota, she cleverly tried to blend in with the crowd by wearing red. I asked her if she was here to do the governor harm. "I don't do harm. I am a nurse," said Matzke, RN, with a laugh. She quickly got serious though when she explained that she and other nurses had had a rally in Minneapolis in support of Wisconsin, but she wanted to be here in person. "We have 13 unionized hospitals in Minnesota. This bill is an assault on our workers, as well as workers everywhere," she said. "Collective bargaining gives us a voice in the work place. I am on a safety committee, I am on a staffing committee, I am on nurse practice committees. Nurses were getting harmed so we were able to negotiate 'no lifting' rules and now we use equipment and we have things like staff ratios to keep our patients safe." Metzke explained that it didn't take a law to achieve these protections, but it did necessitate a union.
5:00 p.m. -Brendan Fischer reports on the 5:00 p.m. rally:
A surprising number of protestors braved the cold and snow in day eight of the rally against Governor Walker's budget repair bill. Speakers thanked Walker "for doing more in a single week to bring us to together than anything that has happened in years!" and pledged that the fight would continue through recalls and the campaign in 2012. In response to the call, "worker's rights are under attack; what do we do?" protestors shouted "we fight back!" "When student rights are under attack, what do we do?" "We fight back!" A Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) representative thanked the public servants who plowed the roads from last night's snowstorm so she could arrive today, and a labor law attorney recalled the history of the labor movement, and noted that only after years of protests, sit-ins, and strife "did they grant us the rights that were already ours. And now they think they can take them away!" He said "the power does not lie with the massive corporations who create phony front groups like Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, power does not lie with the governor, power does not lie with the legislature . . . The power is with the people! . . . and we are going to continue the fight for equity, for the American way, and for the American dream, and to make it a reality for all people, regardless of whether they work in the public or the private sector!"
4:45 p.m. - MoveOn.org has started a campaign to organize emergency rallies in 50 states to support Wisconsinites.
Calling all students, teachers, union members, workers, patriots, public servants, unemployed folks, progressives, and people of conscience:
In Wisconsin and around our country, the American Dream is under fierce attack. Instead of creating jobs, Republicans are giving tax breaks to corporations and the very rich, and then cutting funding for education, police, emergency response and vital human services. The right to organize is on the chopping block. The American Dream is slipping out of reach for more and more Americans, and we have to fight back.
We call for emergency rallies in front of every statehouse this Saturday at noon to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. Demand an end to the attacks on workers' rights and public services across the country. Demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.
We are all Wisconsin.
We are all Americans.
Add your endorsement and this Saturday we will stand together to save the American Dream.
Clicking below will add your name so you can start spreading the word: http://pol.moveon.org/callforaction/o.pl?id=26218-17597122-y129qFx&t=4
Thanks for all you do.
--Daniel, Lenore, Joan, Justin, and the rest of the team
4:30 p.m. - WALKER'S M.O. AND PAST PRIVATIZATION DISASTER REVEALED Anne Landman reports:
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did not campaign for office calling for the destruction of public unions, but a closer look at his past actions shows that he acted rashly toward union workers before, with disastrous and costly results.
...[I]nstead of paying experienced security officers trained by the state to do the job of securing a government building, such as a county courthouse, the citizens of Wisconsin got stuck with:
less qualified security guards protecting Wisconsin citizens -- one of the guards even had a serious criminal record;
the profits of Walker's no-bid deal going to a global corporation headquartered in Europe;
lower wages being paid to the contractors hired by that global corporation, meaning less money flowing into the local economy;
Wisconsin families losing their primary breadwinner due to Scott Walker's rash dictate to fire court security officers who had done nothing wrong; and
the Wisconsin taxpayer footing the bill for both the global corporation's charges (and profit margin) for providing security and also the back wages of the civil servants whose jobs were summarily destroyed by Walker, in violation of Wisconsin law.
Walker's dictates indisputably took decent-paying Wisconsin jobs and handed them to a foreign corporation to profit from, and he did so in the aftermath of global banks crashing the American economy.
4:20 p.m. - CMD's Executive Director Lisa Graves speaks about the Koch brothers Wisconsin connection with Judith Davidoff of the Capital Times: