Live Reporting from the Massive Protests in Wisconsin -- Over 30,000 Assemble at the Capitol
Tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents are flooding the State Capitol in Madison in protest of Governor Walker's proposed budget "repair" bill that would end 50 years of collective bargaining for Wisconsin workers. Center for Media and Democracy reporters are providing live coverage of these historic events. Votes are scheduled for Thursday, February 17 and Friday, February 18 . Send us your stories, photos and videos to editorATprwatch.org!
3:08pm Erica Pelzek sends a photo from the front lines.
2:52pm This is what the rotunda looks like packed to capacity. Photo shot from the catwalk on the capitol dome.
Photo coutesy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
2:14pm Brendan Fischer reports that a rumor is circling in the Capitol that Representative Kapanke's office told teachers that their opinion did not matter because they do not produce anything.
2:00pm Mary Bottari reports that the state capitol police are scouring the Wisconsin Capitol in an attempt to track down the Wisconsin Senate Democratic Caucus. The Wisconsin Senate was slated to vote on the budget bill today, but they were prevented from doing so because all Democratic Senators walked out denying the Republicans a necessary quorum. The Republicans issued a "call of the house" empowering the state capitol police to round up missing Senators, but the Democrats were prepared for this and promptly departed the building and may even have left the state. From WisPolitics:
"Sen. Jon Erpenbach told WisPolitics this afternoon Senate Dems left the state in an attempt to force Republicans to negotiate a compromise to proposed changes to the bargaining rights of public employees. Erpenbach would not disclose where he was or how many of the Dem senators were with him. But he said he believed all 14 were already out of state by early this afternoon. "We were left with no choice," Erpenbach said. Erpenbach said Republicans should look at how the proposed changes are tearing the state apart and realize a different path is needed. "This isn’t anything that we do lightly at all. This isn’t a prank. This isn’t a joke. This is Democrats standing together saying slow down."
As long as Senate Democrats stand together and remain missing, there can be no vote on the Governor's proposal to end Wisconsin's 50 year history of collective bargaining.
1:52pm Brendan Fischer reports that the hearing room explodes in applause when Representative Hebl announces all Democrats are out of the state.
1:47pm Brendan Fischer reports that hundreds are blocking Senate exits.
1:45pm Lisa Graves has provided the following information for your convenience:
Governor Walker's official e-mail address: GovernorWalker@wisconsin.gov
And, here is the switchboard for his office: (608) 266-1212
And, here is his fax number: (608) 267-7888
1:40pm Erica Pelzek reports that a fast-marching swarms of high school students shouting "kill the bill" are approaching the Capitol. Guess they are doing something with their day off!
1:37pm Lisa Graves reports on tracking the specific effort to "repeal collective bargaining rights for University of Wisconsin hospital and clinics" employees. When right-wing politicians say they are just "repairing" the budget, that's newspeak for stripping nurses of their right to organize. Here is the link to the precise proposal, tucked into the budget as an "addendum": http://www.thewheelerreport.com/
1:30pm Mary Bottari reports from the 3 rd floor of the Capitol where she has spotted a young man holding a sign that says “I went to Iraq and came home to Egypt?”. His name is Zach Laport from Spooner, Wisconsin. He served in Iraq from 2004 to 2007 and is now a student at the University of Wisconsin Madison. When asked why he was at the rally, he said “My Grandma is the librarian at Spooner Elementary School. My Mom is a public health worker. My Aunt and Uncle are teachers. Spooner is four and a half hours away and they couldn’t be here, so I came for them. My brother and I signed up for the military because we needed the extra income to go to college. Wisconsin has some of the best benefits in the country for its students, and we don’t want to lose that. I feel that Scott Walker is acting like a dictator. He is not negotiating, he is just giving orders. This week he came after worker rights and next week he is going to take one billion dollars out of K-12 education.”