Pictures And Comment From Wisconsin State Capitol-Thursday March 3, 2011


It was the first time since coming to Madison in 1986 that I was not able to just walk into the Wisconsin State Capitol.  Under gray skies and with rather somber faced people around, I waited in line for my chance to get back into the building where I once worked.  Looking up at the magnificent building during a roughly 15 minute wait I wondered where Wisconsin heads from here. 

With anger mounting, and politicians feeling like  they have their backs to the wall, there is no way that everyone can win.  Question tonight is will there be a way for everyone to save enough face so we all can move on.

Once I moved on into the Capitol I was very troubled by what I saw.  Right off, without counting, I suspect there were 20 law enforcement officers with instructions to treat everyone like they were toting a weapon.  This is not how the State Capitol should be operating.  That all this is being done for political purposes, as opposed to truly legitimate safety concerns made me upset.

I talked with three officers and each, in their own way, let me know they were ‘just following orders’.  One remarked, with a cock of his head, “this is not what we should be doing”.  Everyone knows that law enforcement thinks this is as much a political sideshow as everyone else.  The least we can do is thank them for their time, and wink, and grin….they know what we mean.

The roughly 100 people camped out in the rotunda were not the mom and pop types that had dominated the building during the massive rallies.  No less determined about the reasons they fought the Department of Administration rules over access to the statehouse, they none-the-less were very much a ‘Madison moment’.  They are to be applauded for fighting for very important and fundamental rights.  It is due to their concern that this matter turned into a legal one that has brought a victory from a judge for the union cause.

I spoke with a mom from Milwaukee who brought her young children to the Capitol for the afternoon.  She sat on the floor and was headed back home tonight.  She did however want her kids to see what was happening.  “I do not like the chant, “Kill The Bill”.  We do not use that language at home.  But Walker is wrong about this bill.”

Readers might wonder if it was loud in the statehouse?

Not really. 

In spite of a few drums and singing it was far more ‘serene’ than what the images on television might lead one to think.  Let me be clear….there was more than enough calm for the upper floors of the Capitol  to be working on a negotiated end to this turmoil.

There was one sight I have never seen before in the Capitol.  Jeremy Ryan, who many know from his videos on-line, was using a device that most would love a chance to try.  Due to medical reasons he was allowed to bring his segway into the Capitol.  Ryan was one of the most interesting faces I talked with on Thursday.  Bright, passionate, and clearly a caring person.

When  I asked Ryan how long he was going to stay he responded without hesitation, “for as long as I need to.”

That seemed the spirit of the crowd. 

Before I left Representative Brett Hulsey spoke to the folks and told them “we may have differences (with the Republicans) but we do not have to be disagreeable”.    He also asked people to greet State Senator Grothman, who has labeled the protestors “slobs”, with politeness.

As I left after about an hour the assembled people broke into “Amazing Grace”.  The lady leading the song only knew the first verse, and was handed music with the rest of the song.  Let me add that moment under the dome was quite remarkable.  I only wish Senator Grothman could have witnessed it  with me.

Outside the same scene as yesterday took place as several state representatives had some office furniture out on the statehouse lawn as a way to greet constituents.  Since it was so hard for voters to get inside, elected officials came to them outside.

I asked two Assembly staffers how they were holding up during these last three weeks.  “This is historic, and we are tired, but we are doing OK” one told me. 

What too many never think about when this chaos takes place are the many dedicated people who work in the statehouse and keep the trains running on time.  CP wants to thank them for a job well done, and hoping someone is kind enough to buy them a strong cup of coffee when they most need it.  The Capitol staff are to be applauded for the hard work they do in chaotic times.

The large doors of the building are shut and locked.  But the people of Wisconsin have visited all the same and left sticky notes with countless ideas and feelings.

8 thoughts on “Pictures And Comment From Wisconsin State Capitol-Thursday March 3, 2011

  1. Marion

    where is the law abiding fire marshalls? it should be in your state of Wis , as in every state, against the law to lock down a building and bolt the windows in a public building. It’s a matter public safety. If not doing their job then they need to be given the pink slip!

  2. Jeremy,

    Sorry…..named changed in blog post.

    I did find you interesting……and memorable…..even though I botched the name.

    Thanks for stopping by CP….and have a great weekend.

  3. Salley Johnston

    RECALL WALKER!!… HE CAN’T BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH, BECAUSE HE GAVE AWAY THE UNION WORKERS RIGHTS, TO COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN BEFORE HE EVEN TOOK OFFICE. HOW SICK!!

  4. DJ

    Walker told the 100 people in the Capitol they must leave by 4:00pm and authorities told them to stay. Walker locked the doors, literally holding these people against their will. Their lives were in danger by not having access to medical treatment or an access to an exit in case of fire.

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