Reflections About Madison Capitol Protests

I must be honest. 

For all the emotions over the issue of collective bargaining, which has dominated Madison and the political environment of this state, the most intense feeling I have after a week of protests is of being inspired.  I am deeply respectful of the people in this state who have perhaps no other title than ‘citizen’.

All my life I have read history and followed the news.  The titanic political events always happened  somewhere in the past, or ‘over there’.  Be it in books or newscasts the movers and shakers were the  famous ones that if mentioned we could see pictured in our mind.

Then this past week played out in Madison. 

The movers and shakers became the ordinary men and women who make their own coffee in the morning, drive kids to school, and love a good Friday night fish fry.  The leaders turned out to be some teenagers who understood that politics is not a spectator sport.

On Monday afternoon I happened to be in the right spot to witness something that made my eyes moist, and my heart swell with pride.

After being outside in stormy February weather I made my way back to the Capitol Rotunda and was able to stand almost directly under the dome.  The raucous crowd was chanting, some drums were being used to ratchet up the mood, and people were pumping their fists into the air. 

Then the mood changed.

It was no less loud, or strident. 

It did however became emotional and highly appreciative and respectful as the firefighters entered from one end of the statehouse, crossing through the rotunda, and exiting the other side.  I was able to stand in the middle and have these fine folks walk directly alongside.

Some held their hands out to touch others as they passed.  Some held their hats in one hand, others wore them.  Some looked out at the crowd, others walked with eyes focused on the firefighter in front of them.  A few clapped the assembled crowd on the shoulder, but more often the crowd was tapping them with affection as they passed.

It was a moment that I will not forget. 

But it was not the only one that stands out from this past week.

On Saturday I was one of those that wanted to be a part of the process that was playing out on the Capitol Square.  Many had predicted chaos with both union supporters and members of the Tea Party all converging at once for rallies.  The end result was not one single arrest at the Capitol.  That can not even be said for a football Saturday at Camp Randall!

When I walked along the area where the two groups were separated only by February air I noted, and was really impressed with, the dialogue that was taking place.  Granted at times it was loud, and maybe not the type one wants over a holiday dinner.  But I never heard cussing at these times, or any sign of shoving.  It was a healthy, if heated, discussion.

That really made my day. 

It only added to the growing sense that for all the rancor on news shows and talk radio the rank-and-file citizens of Wisconsin are more grounded and civil, even though we have deep differences.

The fact that so many of my fellow citizens understand the role they play in democracy is uplifting at a time when the national mood seems so cynical and angry about our political institutions.  That people traveled to their statehouse, packed the kids and a toy or two, made some homemade signs, and viewed themselves as a vital part of the process inspired me in ways I can not even describe.

On Thursday, after inching my way through the crowd to the third floor, I stood and looked out into the rotunda.   The place was packed with a sea of citizens who felt that everything they knew about government and civics mattered.  I got goose bumps on my arms.  These were not the disgruntled and apathetic voters that pollsters often seem to find. These were folks who seemed to have the same sense of history as I did.  I just stood and watched them. 

As I did so for a few minutes I thought again that the issue we all were there for may not turn out the way we think best. 

But that does not mean those who gathered in the rotunda this past week, and believed in the cause, were defeated.  There is no way to lose when it comes to citizen involvement, and belief in the political process.  There is no way to be defeated when we show our youth that politics is a ‘sport’ that requires no arm-chair quarterbacking, but total involvement from all the team members.

However this all plays out in the days to come I know that we saw something remarkable play out in Madison.  I am glad to have seen it, heard it, and been inspired by it.

I trust that many who read this will have experienced the same.

Jesse Jackson To Speak At Madison High School Tuesday

This is going to be a magical moment, a powerful moment, for many high school students in Madison.    Jackson has a most remarkable way of connecting and communicating with young people, and inspiring them to look within and aim higher.  I am glad Jackson has been in Madison recently, and look forward to his continuing conversation with union workers.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who spoke at the Capitol on Friday, will be back in Madison to speak at 8 a.m. Tuesday outside Madison East High School, district spokesman Ken Syke said.

Just before classes start at East High School, Jackson plans to march from First Street and East Mifflin Street to the East parking lot for a rally.

Then Jackson will speak to East students over the loudspeaker after the school bell rings. The idea is to both inspire and welcome students back, principal Mary Kelley said.

Pictures: Monday Produces More Energy At Wisconsin State Capitol Union Protests

Madison dodged a major winter storm this weekend, but the perfect political storm kept howling from under the Capitol Dome and all around the Square.    With pride in labor, a kinship of convictions, and the belief that movement was on their side thousands turned out on Monday to protest Scott Walker and his assault on union workers.

Here then is a sampling of today’s sights.

Below was woman who stood near me from a Japan news organization.  She had traveled up from Chicago to report on labor and the unfair treatment of teachers in Wisconsin.  I glanced at her script and it was all written in Japanese…just a wonderful sight to see…knowing this story is international.

Powerful Video Made By Madison Man About Capitol Union Protests

This video is really well done.  Adam Tyksinski from Madison is to be applauded for a most remarkable video concerning the protests being waged at the Wisconsin State Capitol to stop the attempt to end collective bargaining.

Union Protest Signs High Gloss, High Fun For Kids

There is always something new to see when thousands and thousands gather to protest Governor Walker’s union busting bill at the Wisconsin State Capitol.  Today with fresh sleet on a thin blanket of snow kids soon discovered that some of the glossy signs made for the union rally had a dual use.

While their parents were raising their voices to save collective bargaining, kids were lowering their butts on a sign and sliding down an incline on the capital lawn.   I could see from a face here and there that some mom and dads wanted to join the fun……but what would the neighbors think?

Oh, well… least the kids had fun!



Wisconsin Senate Republicans Do Not Want All The Blame For Union Vote


Even the Wisconsin Republicans know that there is no need to jump off the political cliff with Governor Walker.  Even with a Friday deadline nearing…..

The Republican leader of the Wisconsin state Senate says there will be no vote on a bill taking away union rights for government workers until Democrats return.

Fourteen Democrats skipped town on Thursday, delaying indefinitely action on the proposal that has led to protests drawing as many as 68,000 people over the past week.

 One of those Democrats suggested Monday that Republicans might try to pass the restrictions on collective bargaining as part of another bill on Tuesday.

 But Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he will not attempt to pass any portions of the bill without Democrats present. The Senate is meeting Tuesday to take up other measures, such as a resolution commending the Green Bay Packers on winning the Super Bowl.


A key part of Gov. Scott Walker’s stalled plan to balance the state’s budget in part through making public workers pay more for benefits faces a Friday deadline.

 Wisconsin faces a $137 million budget shortfall by June 30 and a $3.6 billion problem by mid-2013. The worker concessions Walker seeks would raise $30 million by July, but the main way that he solves the current problem is be restructuring debt to save $165 million.

 A Feb. 22 memo from his state Department of Administration director warns that the bill must pass by Friday to allow time to refinance state bonds in order to save the money.


(Feel free to cut and past this into emails and send to everyone you know in Wisconsin.  Or just forward the link.  Let us get the word out!)

You may have helped finance Scott Walker’s attack on public employees! 
Now is the time to stop and let those companies and merchants supporting Scott Walker know that you will no longer help them attack you, your family and friends.   Here is where we can fight on the home front in Wisconsin.  
Profits are what is important to these people, let’s cut their profits and their ability to finance Scott Walker.
What’s on your grill?
Ralph C. Stayer, president of Johnsonville Foods, and his sister Launa Stayer and the Johnsonville staff  are major contributors to Scott Walker having donated over $44,000 to Scott Walker!  See it for yourself.

You can contact Johnsonville Foods and tell them that you will not buy their products until they stand up for the working men and women in Wisconsin.  Also, let your grocer know that you will no longer buy Johnsonville products.

Copps grocery stores are featuring Johnsonville brats this week, let Copps know why you no longer purchase Johnsonville brats and ask them to stop selling Johnsonville brats: 1-800-353-4357.  
Sargento: The cheese to cut off of your menu!
The Gentine family, owners of Sargento Cheese, and their employees are also big contributors to Scott Walker — over  $30,000. See here:  
Look were else the Sargento Cheese profits are going, even to Michelle Bauchman! 
Here is how to contact Sargento
Madison and Wauwatosa Area Shoppers – Look what popular grocers are Walker supporters!
Here are the totals for Metcalfe dollars to Scott Walker.

contact Metcalfe Sentry Foods…. 

or email Tim Metcalfe at
Tim Metcalfe has stated that he contributes to both sides, but he and his company do not make political statements – a large campaign contribution is a political statement and business people contribute to both sides to buy influence – so cash in and use it Tim!
And, we can write our own checks to charities in our community.  We don’t need Metcalfe’s Brat Days, which features Johnsonville brats, to help charities if he won ‘t help us.  
Where will you buy your next car, if you can still afford one?  With those who supported Scott Walker?
Darrow family at Russ Darrow Group auto dealers gave over $6,000 to Walker.   The Darrow family also owns the J. D. Byrider car franchises in Wisconsin.
Contact Russ Darrow   1-888-840-1680
See  Russ Darrow contributions to Scott Walker. 
Russ Darrow is a big cheerleader for Walker:  Darrow said tax cuts and regulatory reforms will help increase optimism that could drive more business to him.  Russ, wait and see what thousands of people getting pay cuts will do to your business. 
Bergstrom family at Bergstrom car dealerships gave over $4,000 to Walker.
Contact Bergstrom.   608-271-2211
See  Bergstrom  report on Scott Walker money.
John Bergstrom has already gotten a payback from Walker

Jon Lancaster Jon Lancaster gave $5,000.   Contact Jon Lancaster.   608-843-8941
See Jon Lancaster report on money Scott Walker.
John Zimbrick of Zimbrick Inc. gave $300.  Contact Zimbrick and tell them you are are not pleased with their actions.
 See  Zimbrick report on money Scott Walker. 
David and Robert Hudson of Middleton Ford – $250 each 1-888-221-4966.  See the campaign reports here.
It’s time to stop hurting ourselves by supporting Scott Walker’s friends! 
Forward to your friends.

Video: Hamilton Middle School in Madison Creates Union Protest Documentary

Here is a promo of a documentary that three Hamilton Middle School students in Madison have made concerning the union protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol.  The young Ken Burns’ of the world are starting to show their stuff!  Congratulations!