UPDATE: "At about 5:30 this afternoon, Dane County Judge John Albert concluded a two-day hearing by issuing an order that "unauthorized materials and people" needed to be vacated from the Capitol building. But he also ruled that restrictions on access imposed by the state Department of Administration were unconstitutional, and that full access to the building during normal hours must be restored by Monday, March 7."
"The sentiment was swinging, and it was the group's perception of Walker's wishes that decided it. Organizer Wolf, after reiterating that Walker "wants us to get arrested" for breaking the law, said she didn't want to give him the satisfaction: "I want to claim the moral authority" that comes from not violating the court's decision.
Unknown to these protesters, Walker had at a 6 p.m. press conference laid the groundwork for turning arrests to his advantage. He said that while the majority of protesters over the last two and a half weeks have been "decent and respectful," there were other less savory elements, "a small minority trying to create problems and difficulties for the Capitol police."
By when it came down to it, even this small minority proved elusive, if not illusory. The crowd walked out of the building, singing "Solidarity Forever" and banging drums."
by Alison Janssen
Listen, I'm about to talk politics on a blog. Consider this your fair warning, and come back again next Thursday, when I promise to talk about editing and writing and mysteries.
I live in Wisconsin. Madison, Wisconsin. Not too far from our state Capitol, which has, since Monday been under such strict rules of access that most constituents can't get in the door without waiting for hours in lines outside, and even then it's a crapshoot.
We are reduced to leaving post-it notes on the outer doors of our statehouse.
The Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME Council 24, among a few other groups, were issued a temporary restraining order opening the state Capitol to the general public. The Department of Administration contends that the Capitol *is* open, just with limited access according to their new rules. A hearing to rule whether the DOA's definition of "open" is in line with the intent of the TRO is ongoing since Tuesday.
The Governor's largely reviled budget repair bill is still stalled in the Senate, due to lack of a quorum. That bill would destroy collective bargaining for public workers (save firefighters and policemen, who have been standing firm with the protesters in the fight against this provision of the budget repair bill). The bill also has provisions that wouldgive the state free reign to turn any land -- including protected wetlands -- into districts available for development. The bill also includes a clause allowing for the sale of Wisconsin's state-owned power plants in no-bid deals. The bill would change the agency in control of BadgerCare, Wisconsin's Medicaid program -- giving control to a man who has publically opposed the concept of Medicaid.
Then on Tuesday, the Governor introduced his actual proposed budget -- which depends upon the passage of the repair bill, first. The budget eliminates Wisconsin's statewide recycling mandate. It completely defunds the Arts Board. It splits the University of Madison campus out of the UW system, and gives it a Board of Directors of 21 people, 11 of whom will be appointed by the Governor. It creates a new Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which will have a $99 million budget and will be headed by executives appointed by the Governor.
Oh, and it cuts education funding by 5.5% per pupil.
And the people of Wisconsin, who are still, on day 18, attempting to make their voices heard, to get their Governor and their Republican Senators to listen to their concerns, are being kept from entering the Capitol.
The unions have agreed to all the pension and health care increases in the budget repair bill. The Governor refuses to negotiate on collective bargaining. And while he keeps those who oppose him out of the building, he smuggles in lobbyists and supporters to make noise for him in front of cameras.
It feels like a whole lot of us are saying LISTEN TO US, PLEASE!, and all we're getting in return is smug, stonefaced refusal. And regular readers will recognize how much I hate that plotline.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has gotten behind efforts to recall 8 of the Republican Senators in Wisconsin. If you're able, and you want to support the cause here in Wisconsin, you can donate here.