Staffer Inside Wisconsin Capitol Details What Happened

This is how the events playing out in the Wisconsin State Capitol on Monday looked according to one staffer in the building.   The person submitted this to me, and I will honor the request to not release the person’s name…for obvious reasons. 

I come into work this morning, using my employee ID to get in (been that way for a while.)

What I learn once arriving is that the elevators have ALL been shut down and no one is allowed to go up above the ground floor (I guess for people who… have stayed the night -who are ALL being compliant, in my opinion) unless you have an employer ID or are escorted by a legislative staff member to the upper floors.

Police of all types stationed at every stairwell.

And then I realize that the building is in lockout mode.

The King St. entrance looks like it is prepared to receive the “raucous” visitors: long tables set out with plastic tubs – just like at the airport, but smaller – serving the same purpose: to hold coins, keys, metals of any type – metal detection wands at the ready.

But nothing is happening.

No one is entering the building.

It went on like this for hours. I asked the random police to ask what was happening, but no one seemed to know, or say. I truly believe that they did not know what was happening. It is a state of confusion now.

All of a sudden, at about 1:45pm, (keeping in mind that normal business hours on a weekday are 8am – 6pm), one center-revolving door lets in the light, and they are very slowly and cautiously allowing people to enter. Apparently, the Dem. Assembly members have called a public hearing on this “repair” bill. The law dictates that this bldg. is open for public hearings.

The thing is, a citizen of this state couldn’t just come in and get to the hearing as on any other day. One had to acquire a “legislative pass” in order to enter this meeting. Having learned this piece of news, and never had heard of such a thing, I called a couple of other  representative’s  offices to ask what this is, where to get one. They had never heard of such a thing, either.

As things were changing from moment to moment and no one still had answers, a State Trooper told me that these passes were being given out at the entrance (inside). So I go to this entrance, and there is a Trooper giving out sticky tags, upon which were obviously computer generated, quick-to-the-get tags that read something like, “Legislative Hearing” with today’s date. But he had a total of four sheets with ten tags each.

40 legislative passes.

 There must have been hundreds of people outside waiting to get in.

After people spoke their minds at the hearing, they were escorted out of the building by police.

Within the past couple of days, and I’m not sure when this was exactly instated, food was prohibited from being brought into the capitol- all those pizzas from Uganda to waste. (Except for last night, when my new hero, Charles Tubbs) the Chief of Cap Police allowed the protesters to stay the night.

In fact, everyday, there have been more and more restrictions as to what a person can bring in or where they can go – or pee.

As a last resort – and I am privy to the fact – that people on the outside have delivered food and meds to people on the inside through windows on the ground floor offices or restrooms.

Well now, the restroom windows, as of today, have all (including the first floor, which is one level up) have been secured shut with screws on either side of the windows, rendering them impossible to open, the screw heads lopped off. I witnessed the maintenance dudes who were told to do this.

It sickens me to see this happen at our capitol. I love this building and all that it stands for.

People from around this earth visit here, and have always been especially impressed, not only for its beauty, friendliness, and the especially important fact that it is (has been) so accessible to the public.

9/11/01 was a workday at the Capitol for me. The following weeks of that horrible event lead to a less scrutinizing of public access to this building than what is happening now.

When I saw the thousands of fourth graders on their annual springtime tours, I would stop when I could and  make it a point to say that, “This is YOUR house”. That IS (or was) what this building was built for.

And now I feel I can’t honestly say that anymore.

Governor Walker Told He Could Not Order Protestors Out Of Statehouse

Based on very reliable sources, which include a member of law enforcement, Caffeinated Politics has learned this evening that Governor Walker was extremely angry following the State Assembly vote that needed to be rescinded on February 18th.  In his burst of anger he ordered the Wisconsin Statehouse cleared of protesters.

It was then that law enforcement which included Dane County, City of Madison, and Capitol Police all spoke most candidly to the Governor and told him it was not going to happen.

As described later they did not want another Kent State.

That Scott Walker’s mental door is not hinged all the way up and down is most obvious given what we have seen these past six weeks.    That there are others who have to step in and make sure the state is protected from the worst instincts of Walker is the only blessing we seem to have at this point.

The next question is which mature and seasoned leaders among the GOP will step up and work to end the impasse with the labor unions and the collective bargaining fiasco?

Wisconsin needs some brave men and women in this hour of need.

Madison Mayor Cieslewicz Questions Walker About Turning “Peaceful Protests Into Something Ugly”

All of official Madison is rightly upset Wisconsin Governor Walker was thinking about planting “troublemakers” into the peaceful crowds that have filled the State Capitol and the Square.   The purpose would have been to create chaos, and in so doing make Walker’s bill to strip collective bargaining rights easier to pass.  For Walker to even think such a thing…..even ONCE!…is absolotely unconscionable.  It makes me think of how Richard Nixon acted when in office.

Now Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz weighs in on the issue and strikes to the heart of the matter.  It is easy to see why so many admire and support Mayor Dave. 

But I find it disturbing that Governor Walker apparently considered disrupting the protests. A transcript of a faux call to the Governor from a man he believed was conservative icon and top Walker donor David Koch finds “Koch” offering to help Walker out by, “planting some troublemakers” among the demonstrators. Walker’s reply:

“We thought about that….”

Really, Governor, you thought about that? The Governor of Wisconsin actually thought about planting people in the crowds who might turn these peaceful protests into something ugly?

The Madison Police Department, the Dane County Sherriff, the Capitol Police, UW Police, State Patrol and dozens of police departments from around the state deserve credit for acting so responsibly, as do the protestors who have been incredibly well organized. The tone has been just right. For the governor of our state to suggest that he even considered disrupting these peaceful protests is a serious thing. We need to hear more from him on exactly what he meant. I hope the media will keep after it.

Stephen Fitzgerald “Looks Small”, Appointment Process “Smarmy”

When news broke on January 31st that Stephen Fitzgerald was in consideration to head  Wisconsin’s State Patrol I objected on the grounds that it would appear he was using his sons’ political positions to leverage himself a job that pays $105,678. 

After all, as I noted in my post “appearances matter”.    That is perhaps more so in politics than anywhere else.

We are now all aware of the news announced yesterday that the father of the Assembly Speaker, and the Senate Majority Leader will now head up the State Patrol.

No one can say this was just the right person with the proper resume getting a plum assignment at the right time. 

That pig ain’t gonna fly.

Today the Wisconsin State Journal pounced on the whole process that allowed for Stephen Fitzgerald to get the State Patrol job, even after his defeat in the fall election for Dodge County sheriff by a 2-to-1 margin.

Seems like the voters who knew Stephen Fitzgerald best summed up their feelings at the ballot box last year.

The State Journal termed this an “eye-rolling appointment”  and then added this.

No matter Stephen Fitzgerald’s qualifications, his appointment looks like a goodwill offering from Gov. Scott Walker to the top two lawmakers Walker will need on board with his budget and policy agendas. We hope we’re wrong.

But even if we are, the pick could unnecessarily inject distrust into a host of state decisions. For example, will the Fitzgerald brothers running the Legislature support the smart idea of merging the State Patrol and Capitol Police to save money and improve response times — something that’s been floated in the past — if it also meant it could cost their dad his job?

In January when I wrote about this matter I made a most correct assessment of the matter.

At age 68, and with a few feathers already in his hat, I suggest Stephen Fitzgerald not use his sons’ political positions to leverage himself a job.  It makes him look small, and it makes the process seem smarmy.

Appearances matter, and no matter how one dices this story it ends in the same way.  No one comes out looking good.

I was right.