Workers' Uprising: Walker Unveils Disastrous New Budget, Threatens Democrats With Teacher Layoffs; Protesters Ejected from Speech
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Currently, to be allowed into the Capitol, constituents must contact their legislator(s) and be escorted into the building by the legislator. The restrictions Tuesday provoked Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney to refer to the Capitol as Walker's "palace." "I like to call Walker a little Napoleon," Valerie said. "I think he has presidential aspirations; he wants to get a name for himself by causing a lot of harm in here."
Also spotted was UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin exiting the King Street entrance of the Capitol at 5:05 p.m., escorted by two police officers.
Martin has come under heat recently for having "chatted" with Walker regarding the New Badger Partnership, a plan that would privatize the University of Wisconsin-Madison and grant it autonomy from the UW System.
Update: Breaking: Andy Kroll at Mother Jones reports that the Wisconsin Democratic Party is filing an ethics complaint against Walker stemming from statements he made during the "prank call" with a David Koch impersonator (Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy).
When the recording of Murphy's 20-minute prank call with Walker came out last Wednesday, it immediately went viral—news networks and Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" played clips—and breathed new life into the pro-labor protests in Madison. Walker told the prankster that "we thought about that" when Murphy mentioned planting "troublemakers" in the crowd, and also bragged that he had a baseball bat in his office—a "slugger"—with his name on it. A spokesman for the governor confirmed the authenticity of the tape, saying Walker's conversation with Murphy "shows that the Governor says the same thing in private as he does in public."
Earlier, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said that while the call spoke to Walker's "character," there wasn't grounds to launch a criminal probe.
Update: David Dayen at Firedoglake has an excellent post looking at what might follow the drama now playing out in Wisconsin for a third week. The whole piece is well worth a read, but this passage gets to the question of whether we're seeing the beginning of a broader movement to push back against the right's assault on working families' economic security.
As Gov. Scott Walker cracks down on the activists inside the Capitol Rotunda on the day he releases his 2011-2013 budget, he will be unable to quash the spirit of people like Thomas M. Bird, whose life will never be the same. “I believe that the progressive movement and the labor unions are the only political force left in this country capable of standing up for the brave, hard working Americans who have seen their voice drowned out by the influence of corporate campaign donations… The Democratic representatives of the state of Wisconsin have converted me from being a cynic into being an activist. It is the greatest honor of my life that I have been a part of this fight, and I will do everything that I possibly can do continue it.”
What may not be clear from outside of Wisconsin is the level to which the grassroots protesters and the Democratic members of the Wisconsin legislature have become one throughout this struggle. Not just the “Fab 14″ group of Senators who still reside in Illinois, denying the Republicans a quorum and stalling the budget repair bill that would strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees. But the Democrats in the State Assembly have become activists themselves. They are readily identifiable in the orange “Assembly Democrats: Fighting for Working Families” shirts they’ve been wearing for two weeks. They help negotiate access to the building and use their resources to get in people and supplies. They hold public hearings through the night to force the Capitol to stay open. They spent 63 hours on the Assembly floor stretching out debate on the bill, forcing the local media to report on what it contained. One Assembly Democrat had reconstructive surgery for skin cancer last Tuesday, and was back on the floor Wednesday for debate. She was in the Capitol Sunday night, with a bandage on her face, as the protesters readied themselves to be arrested. “This is civil disobedience at its finest,” she told me.