Wisconsin State Capitol Protest A Moral Issue

This is one of those moments that defines who we are as a people…..Wisconsin is speaking.

Dozens of ministers, rabbis, and priests joined workers and students from across the state, saying they would risk arrest to protest the closing of the State Capitol to the public Sunday.

“I think that this action tonight is silencing the peoples’ voice,” said Rabbi Renee Bauer, of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South-Central Wisconsin. “Silencing the minority, or the people with less power, is a real moral problem. This feels like it’s about shutting down the peaceful demonstration one step at a time.”

Other religious leaders agreed.

“This is a critical moment for Wisconsin and for so many states,” said Rev. Leah Lonsbury of Memorial United Church of Christ in Madison. “Clearly, this is about far more than a budget.

“It’s a moral issue, and the rights at stake here are so basic to our common good and our common humanity, to the very idea of justice, that we are willing to risk arrest to protect them and have our voices be heard. Our faith calls us to stand with the vulnerable and speak truth to power. This is what we are called to do.”

What Will Happen To Wisconsin Capitol Protestors?

These are the final hours, if all the reports are true, for the protestors who have been camping out in the Wisconsin State Assembly.  It has been reported for days that the police will remove protestors starting later this afternoon, and then begin cleaning the building soon thereafter.  The protestors will not be allowed to return to stay.

Over the past days I have chatted with folks who have set up a space in the statehouse with a sleeping bag and high ideals about what they hope to accomplish, and what makes them so determined to make a difference.

Though they all are worthy of a blog post it is Dan Framsee that leaps to mind when I think of the amazing faces under the dome.

Framsee has been living at the Capitol since the protests started, his air mattress and few belongings which included a guitar, located on an interior wall of a hallway.  I suspect he chose his space to have some calm from the high volume of traffic, yet even his location was not immune to the energy that is dominating the building.  After speaking with Framsee it was clear he was dedicated to the cause, noise or not.

This young man who appeared to be in his early 20′ s works for Alto Clef Productions in Madison, which has done  design work for Ian’s Pizza.   Along the back of the wall where Framsee sleeps at the Capitol were drawings to make it appear that he was indeed ‘home’. 

Framsee spoke about the need to stop the budget repair bill, and his willingness to be dragged from the Capitol if it came to that in order to make the point more directly.  He was going to make sure his guitar was safe prior to Sunday afternoon, and then wait until he was forced to move.  And then be removed by police.

Those who use derision to paint the protestors with one large paint brush are just wrong.    They are not just young people with nothing better to do, or college kids just wanting to party.   In fact, I found no one that fit such a profile these past two weeks in my conversations.

The men and women who stayed overnight at the Capitol are strong-willed, courageous, and principled.  They all deserve our praise.  It is in part due to them being at the Capitol day after day, and night after night for this vigil that more and more citizens have come to see the many pitfalls of the budget repair bill.

On behalf of countless citizens around Wisconsin, thank you!

Massive Saturday Rally At Wisconsin State Capitol In Support Of Union Rights

On Friday afternoon the sharp raspy voice of a cigarette-smoking conservative radio host in Madison predicted that the union protest rally at the State Capitol would never reach 100,000.  No, way, came the reply from her male side-kick behind the microphone.  Well…

While there are no figures released yet about the size of the crowd, one thing is for sure.  It is massive, and it appears to me that the size of the crowd is larger than that which assembled peacefully last weekend.  At that time 68,000 were reported to have marched in support of union rights.  While I am not one to gauge the numbers in a crowd I am sure it will astound all when we finally find out later today.

In the hours to come a variety of reports and pictures will get posted of the sights and feedback that I experienced while at the Capitol.  Some deal with the crowd, the signs, my conversation with a prominent conservative lawmaker, and the close-ups with some ‘stars’ who were at the event.  And of course some cute kids will be featured on CP too.

Today I did something new for this rally.  I wore long-underwear.  For nearly two weeks I have frozen myself as I helped to protect the union rights of my fellow citizens.  But when I got up this morning and saw the temperature at 9 degrees, and it had only risen to 16 by the time I stepped into a hot shower……I broke out the winter attire.  I did however stick to my tradition for today’s protest and wear something yellow.  Today it was a bright yellow shirt as a sign that things will get better.

Some might  have thought the snow falling might dull the crowd.  I can firmly attest that the snow is making the whole affair more festive, the kids are loving it, and the adults seem to be soaking in the imagery of this huge event set on the picturesque Capitol Square.  If you are going to have a political rally there is no place like Madison, Wisconsin!  It all seems more cozy, and somehow ‘warmer’ with the snow.  Sounds strange, I know.  But the crowd is clearly into the event this afternoon.

WEAC Wants All Teachers At Madison Statehouse Thursday And Friday

I am a strong supporter of Wisconsin teachers and labor unions.  I also know the strong show of outage these past days in Madison over Governor Walker’s union busting bill has been making not only loud noise in the Capitol, but nervous stomachs among some legislators.

And that is a damn fine thing.

This union busting bill needs to die.

I am very proud of the teachers that have taken time to stand shoulder to shoulder at the statehouse.  The spirited high school students who have joined in the cause are to be applauded too.

Now comes news that WEAC is urging all teachers statewide to be in Madison Thursday and Friday and ramp up to the heat on the Walker and Company.

Spring Really Starts In Madison April 19, 2008 At 6:00 A.M.

I know that calendars had spring starting in Madison several weeks ago.  I know that the papers told readers it had happened, and that local weathermen reported the same.  I understand that the Mayan ruin, Kukulkan’s Pyramid, experienced sunlight on March 20th at precisely mid-afternoon which bathed the western balustrade of the pyramid’s main stairway causing seven isosceles triangles to form imitating the body of a serpent 37 yards long that creeps downwards until it joins the huge serpent’s head carved in stone at the bottom of the stairway.  (This Mayan ruin is amazing, and having climbed it I can say ‘awesome’ does not start to describe it.)  I know that many are already in a spring frenzy.  But wait!

Regardless of why you think spring has started, let me assure you that it has not.  Spring does however start on Saturday, April 19, at 6:00 A.M. 

The best place to observe the real start of spring is at the Capital Square as the Dane County Farmers Market begins.   That morning vendors will be arrayed around the square, coffee and donuts will be in ample supply, and fresh greenhouse salad fixings and vegetable plants will be ready for sale.  And if my prediction is correct MANY people who have had their fill of snow and cold will descend on the square to usher in spring.  Yes, this IS the real start of spring in Madison!

Though I do not expect any snake like creature to form on the Statehouse that day in the sunlight as it did on Kukulkan’s Pyramid.

The Market runs through the first weekend of November at the Statehouse square.  Other venues for the market in the city, and days they are held, can all be found here.


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Public Pressure Forces Wisconsin Management Company’s Hand In Madison Lease Matter Concerning Brittany Zimmerman

I received this note from Wisconsin Management Company minutes ago as a follow up to the blog post here, and news stories statewide, over the matter concerning the apartment lease of Brittany Zimmerman and Jordan Gonnering. This should never have been needed to be resolved in the public way it was.  The fact that many people responded in the fashion they did when hearing this news is a sign that Madison has a heart and soul that reacts with strength and conviction for the needs and concerns of others.  I am damn proud of all who did their part to see this matter handled in a way that Jordan Gonnering requires so to move on with his healing.  This blog, and all my readers, send peace his way.


Press Release – For immediate release

Wisconsin Management Company, Inc. extends its deepest condolences to both the Zimmerman and Gonnering families. We regret how our statement on Friday was characterized. Wisconsin Management Company, Inc. takes great pride in our service and commitment to our residents. We felt it inappropriate, one week after the incident, to discuss the particulars of the lease situation until we had spoken to the families. We have since had the opportunity to speak with Jordan’s parents. After discussing what the family wanted, we have decided to release all parties from any lease obligations. Once the property is released by the police, we will do any cleaning or repairs that are necessary. We have also offered housing to Mr. Gonnering, which he will consider. Now that this situation is resolved, we hope people can focus on the actual tragedy and work towards healing and justice.

Russ Endres

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ACTION ALERT: Call Wisconsin Management Company Regarding Their Refusal To Cancel Lease Of Fiance Who Shared Apartment With Murdered UW Girlfriend, Brittany Zimmerman


PHONE NUMBER for Wisconsin Management Company is (608) 258-2080.  We can make a difference!

Renting in Madison can be a hellish thing.  We all know of the high prices, and management companies that do not care about much other than the bottom line.  Now comes word that Wisconsin Management Company will not allow the fiance of Brittany Zimmerman, a college student murdered in Madison, to be released from his lease.  The murder took place in the apartment that the two shared.  The fiance, Jordan Gonnering, discovered her body in the apartment. 

Plain and simple, this is absurd.  WKOW-27 Reports.

Sources close to Gonnering tell 27 News Reporter Dan Cassuto the company is refusing to release him from the lease he and Zimmerman signed together. If he is not released from the lease, Gonnering would be forced to keep living in the apartment or make payments through August 2009.

Cold heartless bastards is the only way to sum up how Wisconsin Management Company is dealing with this matter.  There is no way that Gonnering should be expected to live or pay rent on that place any longer.  He no longer wants to even set foot in the place.  And rightfully so.  He will need new living arrangements, and should not be expected to pay for two places.  The guy needs to heal and there is no way that can happen in that apartment.  There is no reason he should keep paying for the place.  He needs to be allowed to break the lease. Now.

CALL Wisconsin Management Company and tell them that this is wrong and needs to be corrected at once.  The corporate phone number is (608) 258-2080.

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Lake Monona Melts Ice While Creating Sights And Sounds

Lake Monona produced sights and sounds on Sunday as it ushered in spring that made me get a camera, along with some neighbors and their kids.  Then we all ventured along the shore.  The brisk winds had brought the ice from the middle of the lake up to the shores in large broken segments.  Much like plate tectonics, the ice rose up over other frozen slabs, and at that point where they slid past each other the rays of the sun and warmth had melted the ice in such a way that frozen straw-like icicles were formed.  Then with more force by the winds the icicle-like formations, averaging about 10″ in length, grouped together in their own slab-like chunks of ice on the shore.  (Picture above) One could reach down among these straw-like formations and grab them up.  The tinkling sound of icicles sounded like glass breaking, while the sound of the larger ice chunks in the water sounded like breathing at times as the water sloshed underneath.  It was magnificent!  As the day grew warmer the single icicles melted together, thus taking away some of the slendor.

The fact that the wind blew from the south-southeast, with some gusts reaching over 25 mph, helped push the ice to the convention center side of Lake Monona. 


The ice breaks up on Lake Monona

I picked up a bundle of the icicles and crashed them on the water creating this effect above.

The delicate and fragile icicle-like after effects of melting ice.

A close-up of the icicles.

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