Madison Rotunda Report From March 18

Another guest blog post by my Uncle Brad! This one covers some of the personal stories of people he’s encountered during his activism. It also shares some interesting tidbits about Karl Rove and some behind the scenes Republican scrambling. As always, thanks so much to Brad Palmer for his passion, great storytelling and general good humor in this microcosm of what’s taking place or due to take place around the country:

Hello, Fellow Truth Seekers (borrowed that from Mike Malloy)–In short, the capitol area turnout was sparse tonight, less than 100 people. I’ve found that Fridays are lightly attended, because people are planning on demonstrating on Saturday. Also, I didn’t arrive there until 7:30 PM. We’ll see what occurs tomorrow. Many of the small towns and cities in Wisconsin are holding their own demonstrations, and working tirelessly on recall efforts of the Republican senators. I’m also going to include some periphery stories that have occurred, some to inform in-staters, some to inform out-of-staters.

I walked the square three times, encountering some fellow marchers. I overheard one of them saying to another, “OK, then, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I’m hoping that means a march, and we’re represented by several thousand. One man had his two small children with him. I thanked him for getting the children involved. He replied, “It’s important.” I then walked up to the capitol building itself, talked briefly with two police officers who didn’t know what Saturday would bring to the square. I re-met the man and his children, made two cycles around the capitol to see many of the window displaying signs like, “Walker, your pink slip is coming,” I purchased a “Stand With Wisconsin” sign from a vendor for $2. I wished him well, hoped that he was making some money. We both mentioned how nice it was that merchants were seeing increased business from this.

The area around the capitol is very clean except for people minding their signs. I stood at one of the stoplights for about 15 minutes with my signs, got some “Democracy” honks, some regular honks, some cheers, some solidarity fists in the air. A large city metro bus came up from State Street and made a circle around the capitol, honking support all the way. Think he’s union?

Kathie and I went to the recall office, which was again busy. I noticed one staffer manning the counter, one in back with papers, two at computers, one assisting as a “go-fer.” I mentioned to Kathie, “This is ALSO what democracy looks like.” The office was fairly busy. We canvassed some apartment buildings that cater to the elderly. A number of the residents there were disabled or retired. We knocked on perhaps 25 doors, half of whom were out. Of the rest, we got eleven signatures. Important stuff coming here….a woman answered the door, and after Kathie stated our purpose, she said she would absolutely sign the petition, yes….and did we have one for Walker? Kathie explained that would be coming in November.

The woman said, “He ruined my life.” She is disabled. She receives $777 per month and doesn’t work. Her daughter is a nursing assistant for a public school. (I did that for two years before graduating as an RN–it is VERY hard physical work, and the average pay right now is around $11/hour). Her daughter was told her health insurance was going to increase by $250 per month because of the “budget repair bill” Walker is trying to force feed us. As tears welled up in the woman’s eyes, she said she had her cable TV disconnected. I looked at the TV, the cords were wound up and dangling. She said she did that to help her daughter pay the insurance, and that she would find a way somehow to pay for her daughter’s insurance out of her $777.

We don’t know her daughter’s circumstances. But this story will play out all over this country if WE don’t stop it. She thanked us for “doing what you’re doing.” I told her she could do more than we could ever do by just sharing her story with everyone she can. She asked if she could hug us. We did, and my heart cracked a little. This kind of thing happens while Koch Industries makes millions at her expense, and Walker gets to be a lobbyist when he leaves office–which WILL BE SOON!

Another couple who were disabled said, “Thank you for doing this. Without you, we don’t have a voice.” We told them they have one now, and they’d have another when we bring Walker’s recall petition around in November.

Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi ruled today that Walker’s union-busting bill was enacted illegally. So that “legislation” ( a term I use VERY loosely) has been at least temporarily stopped. Dane County executive Falk has also filed a legal complaint against the Republican fiasco.

We heard an interesting comment from John Nichols (“The Nation” magazine) on Madison Progressive Radio. An organization (Democracy Now, I think) has been monitoring Walker’s visitors to the capitol daily since the first 50 protesters were out. After week one, Karl Rove sent in his point man, who spent the day with Walker. Apparently, the public face the Republicans put on was VERY different from the private face–that is, according to Nichols, Walker’s administration was in “crisis mode” from the start. Obviously, this has now blown up on him, and the hearts, minds, souls, feet, and VOTES are against him. On Wednesday there was a rally in NYC with signs proclaiming, “I Stand With Wisconsin,” “We are ALL Wisconsin,” and, “We Are
Wisconsin.”

In Washington DC, the Hall of States (where Walker also has an office) had a demonstration, characterized by many, many signs saying, “Stand With Wisconsin.” I am SO proud to be among these people, these hard working Wisconsin residents who, prior to Walker’s regime, we’re pretty much unrelated and uninterested in any common way to each other. Now we are one solidarity movement, growing, organizing, working outside of jobs to right this wrong. Please, my neighbors, keep fighting, we have 40 days left to get all the signatures, and failure is NOT an option here.

In this same regard, Walker has opted NOT to simply re-convene the legislature, modify the court’s objections, and vote again, this time with a quorum, to presumably pass again the end of collective bargaining. Why? Conjecture is that with the massive and continual demonstrations, and the seemingly well-run recall efforts against the Republicans in office, there is a fear that some of the Republicans may break from Walker and actually vote against the bill. Is there dissension in the ranks of the “emperor with no clothes?”

If anyone is interested in seeing the video of Kathie’s interview with channel 3, albeit very short, go to http://www.channel3000.com , go to the video section, then search, then type in “Portage protest.” I don’t know how long it will be on, but it’s there tonight; a previously dormant group of Portage citizens awakened to the common cause of fairness and freedom from corporate domination as dictated by Walker. Rallies all over America are starting to happen, all peaceful, all firm, all with some homage to Wisconsin, where I’m proud to be a resident.

Keep working, talking, reading, watching. Sheri is sending out emails regarding hour to hour information in our progress here, elsewhere, and background on Walker and his gang of thieves. Wisconsin is leading the way, the cause is growing everywhere. Hear this–Wisconsin remains STRONG, and is getting stronger daily.

One day longer, one day stronger, my friends. Solidarity.

Brad

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