“Walkerville” Is Coming To Wisconsin State Capitol, Glory And The Dream Wisconsin Style

This is what democracy looks like.

One of my favorite books is “The Glory And The Dream”.  I first read the two-volume set in high school and then a couple of times since.  The book opens with William Manchester brilliantly writing about a major protest in the heart of Washington. It is 1930 at the rise of the Great Depression, and veterans camp across from the White House.  They were coldly shunned by President Hoover when asking for nothing more than advance relief from the Great Depression.  They would be brutally attacked by troops and national guardsmen led by Douglas MacArthur.

Now we have “Walkerville”  coming to downtown Madison, and lasting for many days to protest the anti-worker, pro-corporate polices of Governor Walker and the Fitzgerald boys.  We can only hope that Governor Walker can keep the members of the state patrol in check.

Madison city officials approved a permit on Friday to allow protesters to set up a camp near the state capitol. 

During a meeting on Friday morning, local group We Are Wisconsin was given permission to put up tents and hold an ongoing protest until June 20. However, the group will need a separate camping permit to sleep overnight in the tents, officials said. 

The protest area, which some have sought to call “Walkerville,” will be located at the top of State Street and the city’s Street Use Committee will determine where tents can be set up.

Planned Parenthood Stands Up To Violence, People Need To Stand Up For Planned Parenthood

Ralph Lang, an angry and demented idiot from Marshfield with a handgun was arrested in Madison this week before he could pull the trigger and kill untold numbers of people at Planned Parenthood.  The news makes for a sober ending to the work week. 

As the Wisconsin Legislature carelessly works to allow anyone the right to carry a concealed handgun we are again reminded of the anger and unstable makeup of many in our society.   Lang represents the worst kind of madman.  One that feels he has a mission from God to spill blood.

Planned Parenthood is a worthwhile and essential organization.  Not only in Madison but throughout the state and nation.  They serve a purpose for women and our whole society.  Too often Planned Parenthood is vilified and willfully misunderstood for the sake of political chicanery by conservatives and out-and-out wackadoodles.

After a near tragedy such as the one that made news this week in Madison it is again time to recognize the need for not only gun control, but also the continued rights of women to control their own bodies.  That there are some who would go the lengths Ralph Lang was planning strongly underscores the reasons we all must stand up for Planned Parenthood, and the rights of women.

Today Teri Huyck, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood released a statement.  In part she said the following.

Unfortunately, we are working in an environment where a vocal few would like to see us cease being a part of Wisconsin’s health care community.  When anti-abortion organizations and politicians vilify Planned Parenthood as a health care provider, they embolden people like this man who would turn to violence.  Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin will stand strong and continue to be a trusted provider of comprehensive reproductive health care services in communities throughout Wisconsin.

It is at times like this that I most admire Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s staff.  They continue to provide the highest quality health care even in the face of their own personal safety.  Their personal strength and commitment to our mission and our health care is without equal.  Additionally, we are stronger and safer because we have the commitment and support of people like you who fully understand the critical role all the health care we provide plays in the lives of women and families. 

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin Needs A Time Out

As I  noted yesterday Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is needlessly creating divisions with the new City Council.  The issue that I commented on yesterday regarding the Overture Center is also the one that was featured on the editorial page of today’s Wisconsin State Journal.

I stated yesterday…

There were many leaders of this city who painstakingly worked to fashion an Overture agreement that most think is viable and smart.  To come in at this time and want to tear apart a finalized agreement is not good news for Overture.  In addition, the strains that are put on the working relationship between Soglin and the council are needless.

The WSJ wrote today…

His ego-driven prediction this week that the Overture Center will “crash and burn” was irresponsible and insulting to his new City Council colleagues.

Soglin is not a high-profile blogger anymore, sounding off on city matters from the sidelines. He’s back in charge of City Hall for an unprecedented third time. So his words carry significant weight and come with serious consequences.

While it is clear Soglin has an ax to grind about the way Madison’s former leader Dave Cieslewicz ran the show during his eight years as mayor, there is no need for Soglin to undermine the final outcome after a hard-sought resolution was crafted for Overture.

The newspaper summed it nicely.

And we hope his third time as mayor turns out to be more of a charm than his blunt blunder this week otherwise suggests.

We all must hope for that or this is one long bumpy ride.  And needlessly so.

Wisconsin State Capitol Security Needs To Be Scaled Back

When elected members of the Wisconsin State Legislature resort to this amount of excessive security they might need to take a group retreat and ponder if they are indeed doing the people’s business?

I do not recall security at the Wisconsin State Capitol being as excessive following the events of 9/11, as it has been since Governor Walker proposed curtailing collective bargaining earlier this year.  I was not sure if I should be angry or sad on Saturday while watching the grim-faced officers at one of the two open entrances.  

Regardless of how I felt it was clear that there was a dramatic flair being put forth to somehow continue to insinuate that labor ‘thugs’ had bad intentions, and only the ever-vigilant law officers could protect the building and all inside.  There clearly is a desire to convey a political message with the use of these officers that far exceeds the actual results of their work. 

One needs to ask how much political theater is enough at a time when budget shortfalls make almost every issue of the newspaper.  How much more do taxpayers need to spend in order for Governor Walker’s administration to feel that they have made their point? 

We all get it.  Republicans think labor unions are comprised of violent people who are out to create mayhem.  The lack of any such violence, however, underscores the reason the over-reach by the Wisconsin Department of Administration needs to be stopped.  

Even when tens-of-thousands gathered at the Capitol there was nothing more serious than full-throated expressions of outrage.  All the protesting that took place was peaceful.   It was only when attempts were made to curtail entrances that some pushed and became unruly.

As I watched my fellow citizens enter the statehouse Saturday, all who looked as lethal as I do, I wondered how law enforcement would handle the children who entered the building.  Could they do their work and not smile at the absurdity of making a kid feel like they were just shy of a police lineup? 

What were the officers thinking the 8-year-old looking African-American girl was bringing into the statehouse?  Radioactive M&M’s?  Is that why they not only had her walk through a metal detector, but then pulled her aside to be wanded?  Following her standing with arms outstretched she was then allowed to walk into her Capitol.   Are they sure she should not be followed and monitored as she laid on her back to look up at the dome in the center of the building?

What I saw again on Saturday offends me!

Over and over the parade took place as scores of taxpayers went through the charade just in order to make entrance to their statehouse.  I realize this has been happening every day for many weeks, but to again see this up close makes me wonder how anyone thinks this is logical.  More importantly, who will fight to bring this to an end?

At the north entrance many years ago was the office I temporarily worked in while our wing of the Capitol was undergoing remodeling.  People came in and out, the halls were alive with lobbyists, school groups, and fellow staffers.  There was accessibility and freedom of movement.   Now there is a law enforcement set-up that makes me wonder just what type of nefarious plot is hoping to be caught.    As I stood there Saturday I pondered the changes that have taken place and wondered how far can we slip into this wave of needless hysteria.

That this is being done for political reasons, as opposed to sound security purposes, should alarm and anger us.  If there is something to be frightened over, this hyped-up security for political purposes would be it!

If 100,000 Citizens Gather At Statehouse In 32 Degree Weather, What Happens With Spring Protest On May 14th With 60 Degrees?

Let the pressure be applied!

Scott Walker and his allies continue to show that they will stop at nothing to strip workers of their voice on the job.

With their first flawed pass at union bashing tied up in the courts, Walker’s cronies now say they will incorporate the bill stripping workers of their rights into the state budget, which is flying through the legislature despite unprecedented protest against its controversial nature.

On Saturday, May 14, join us in Madison for a rally at the State Capitol. We’ll deliver our message louder than ever: Wisconsin will not stand for Scott Walker’s attack on Wisconsin’s working families. Music will begin at 2:30 p.m. with speakers at 3:00 p.m.

City Of Madison Messing Up Terraces, Angering Taxpayers

Once again the method the City of Madison employed to pick up spring piles of brush and leaves from terraces caused concern, and even some anger from residents and taxpayers.  There were many residents who found the way city leaves were picked up last fall to be nothing short of ridiculous.  Those feelings have been transferred to the spring-time pick-up.

Terraces were marred by using too large of equipment with large deep-treaded wheels.  Little consideration was made for the way many residents of the city try to maintain the terrace space.  Before and after pictures of the damage the bobcat type machine does to the terrace would make for some interesting conversations with city workers.

This spring the number of folks I have spoken to, or heard from, on this matter regarding the terraces all paint the same picture.

The city, by using the wrong equipment, and not being careful are scraping off topsoil, grass, along with other growth.  In addition they are running the machines over tree roots and riding over curbs and onto yards and gardens.  They leave being ruts and ripped up sod.

That is just not the way the city should be operating, or the way the terraces that many folks work hard to maintain should be treated.

My concern about how leaves are taken from terraces started in the fall of 2009.  It was then the city brought in a bobcat type tractor to gather the leaves from  my terrace.  This, in and of itself, was ridiculous, as in previous years a couple of guys had jumped from a truck, and raked the pile into the street.  It took a couple of minutes.  Then a small jeep-like vehicle pushed the leaves into the lift on the back of a city truck.  The leaves left, and the terrace was not damaged.

But in 2009 due to the bobcat being driven like a 17-year-old with a new license my sod was ripped up, deep track marks were left, and it looked like hell.  All just to get the leaves off the terrace!  Worse was the fact the city crew must have thought this was an acceptable way of doing business.

Again this year we found a way not to need to place anything on the terrace as we have worked hard to keep the space looking nice.  This is, after all, the city we call home, and want it to look nice.  I suspect most of my fellow Madisonians feel the same.

I only wish the city crews that pick up the leaves and brush all felt the same.

Missing Underwear After Mifflin Street Block Party

Why would anyone think the Mifflin Street Block Party is a flawed idea, a drunk-fest, and needing to be eliminated?  Consider all the fun that was to be had!

• A 19-year-old Madison man was hospitalized Saturday with a deep stab wound to his buttocks after he refused to give another man a beer and the two started fighting.

• A 20-year-old Rock County woman said she blacked out Saturday afternoon and woke up in an office building around 9 p.m. She was missing her underwear, purse and other personal belongings.

• A 19-year-old Sussex woman was found in a West Johnson Street parking garage around 3:52 a.m. Sunday clad only in a T-shirt and underwear. The woman did not know how she got there.

• Mark A. Goss, 23, of Lodi was tentatively charged with battery to a police officer and resisting arrest after he slugged Sgt. Karen Krahn in the face around 7:40 p.m. in the 400 block of West Mifflin Street after she approached him for carrying a bottle of liquor in a glass-free zone.

• Police went to a house party in the 500 block of West Mifflin Street around 3:40 p.m. after people said they had been hit with beer cans coming from a balcony of the residence. Brandon K. Reed, Alex E. Ruff and Steven L. Rubinyi, all 22 and of Madison, were cited for providing alcohol to underage persons. Reed and Rubinyi were also cited for encouraging underage consumption.

Seth A. Kulick, 22, of Burlington tried to run from police investigating the house party. Kulick dragged Officer Grant Humerickhouse down an alleyway, bruising the officer’s leg. Sgt. Tony Fiore also bruised ribs dealing Kulick, who was tentatively charged with resisting and obstructing, possession of drug paraphernalia and casual possession of marijuana.

• Nicholas G. Kollauf, 18, of Milwaukee was tentatively charged with possession of cocaine and underage drinking, and Chase W. Strunk, 21, no permanent address, was tentatively charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana. Both were in a shed behind a residence in the 500 block of West Mifflin Street, which officers had thought people were using as a bathroom.

• Justin B. Goodwin, 20, of Madison was tentatively charged with battery and trespass after officers saw him striking the head of a 22-year-old Mifflin Street resident. The victim said Goodwin and other men were on his porch and attacked him when he asked them to leave.

• Luke W. Seeling, 20, of Spring Valley was tentatively charged with possession with intent to deliver a schedule II narcotic after police saw him give a pill from a bottle to one of several women standing around him in a backyard at about 9:30 a.m. Saturdy. Seeling, who had 45 Aderall pills, told police he was providing amphetamines because the women were tired and needed to “wake-up.”

Now Comes Tough Words From Mayor Soglin And Mike Verveer Over Mifflin Street Block Party

On Saturday I posted  that “I suspect many local politicians will try to feign a shocked look when trying to explain how this never was considered a possible outcome.”

The outcome were the many crimes and incidents of violence including stabbings, sexual assaults, batteries, thefts, police officers hurt, robberies and drug deals in downtown Madison during and after the Mifflin Street Party. 

I also posted Mayor Soglins’s comment made before the party was held concerning the way the Mifflin event was organized this year.  (emphasis below is mine.)

Soglin stated, “Just when we thought there were no new ways of having a block party, we’ve found a new way,” Soglin said. “This is a rather different and much improved effort to celebrate spring.”

Now that the event is over comes the tough words from Soglin, and a leading member of the Madison City Council, Mike Verveer.  Rather as I predicted back on Saturday that hindsight would provide clarity of thought.

Mayor Paul Soglin vowed to end the process of issuing a permit for larger events, known as a picnic beer license, without formal approval from the mayor and City Council. A picnic beer permit now requires only an administrative review by the city clerk’s office.

“In retrospect, the issue of a beer permit was a tragic mistake,” Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, said. “I should have realized when we got the advice from the city attorney’s office that there was no way to ban carry-ins, the deal should have been off.”

“The sheer quantity of beer and liquor being carried into the event was obscene,” Verveer said. Allowing open consumption “gave a sense of entitlement, invincibility, to partygoers, like there were no rules,” he said.

Soglin, who on Sunday called for an end to the event, acknowledged Monday that change will take time.

While this type of Monday-morning quarterbacking is not unusual, the taxpayers, voters, and residents of Madison have watched year after year as this annual embarrassing drunk-fest is allowed to continue.  For long-time politicians who well understand Madison and the issues we confront, not to have known in advance that  the lifting of the ban on open alcoholic beverages in the streets would be utter insanity, is a statement in and of itself.   That it just one more embarrassing part to this story.

The events at the Mifflin Street Party nearly claimed the life of a man this weekend after he was stabbed.  That makes the snow event that everyone barked at  Mayor Dave Cieslewicz about a couple of years ago seem rather tame in comparison. 

Major Soglin is now in charge, and this Mifflin Party is a problem on his watch.  An event he now has stated he wants to see come to an end.  I applaud him for that statement, and wish him well in bringing it about.   Many will be watching and making note of his promise.