Archive for the ‘recall’ Tag

Our Wisconsin Commonwealth   Leave a comment

Our Wisconsin Commonwealth

By Jody Maier

Hi, my name is Jody, but it could be Sue, Bill, John, or Jill because I’m no different than many of you. I was born, raised, and now choose to live in Wisconsin. For thirty-eight years this land has nurtured and supported me. I write this today because I fear that nurturing and supportive nature is fundamentally changing. I perceive that attitudes are coming to surface so rapidly and with so much venom we may find it hard to move forward together again.

When I was a boy in the early eighties the economy was bad. Jobs — decent paying jobs that could pay for food, mortgage, clothes, and end worry — were difficult to come by. At least they were in my house. Inflation was soaring, interest rates were solidly in the teens, and our household was waiting for our piece of the American pie to trickle down. Without the weekly unemployment checks, blocks of government cheese, and the goodwill of friends and family, our situation would have been much worse. The commonwealth of the people, our shared taxes, helped my family weather the storm of misfortune.

Another asset of the commonwealth (Common: of or relating to a community at large, Wealth: all material objects that have economic utility; especially: the stock of useful goods having economic value in existence at any one time) that proved the difference for me and my family is our educational system. I was an able student, but willful and challenging. There were so many educators that took extra concern with me and brought me back to the straight and narrow when I strayed. As a reflective adult I see this clearly now. At the time I found them meddlesome, but what perspective does a student have on the role of the educator? This is one aspect I find troubling right now. The armchair quarterbacking going on relative to teachers is galling. As if someone over twenty years removed from the experience, and immature when the experience was gained, has any useful insight into the position of our public teachers. No one at large has the competence to judge the worth of a teacher’s compensation. Few understand the commitment, the schooling required as a prerequisite, the sacrifice, and the bargaining that brought them to this pass. Rather than envy a fellow citizen their compensation, we should hold them as a standard for the whole of society. Devaluing their status of compensation only devalues our own. Not to mention that reduced compensation lessens the possibility of the best entering the profession as the best have options. Do we want the best for our children or do we want the mediocre?

I grew up in a family that relied on deer hunting for sustenance. We didn’t hunt for the glory of shooting some Boone and Crocket trophy. My dad was fond of saying “You can’t eat the antlers anyways.” The deer herd then was not robust and it was quite a bit of work to bag a deer. Doe tags were rare and it was a treat to see more than a few flashes of brown in the woods. Today, because of decades of academic practices, we have a thriving deer herd that is the envy of many states. The whitetail of Wisconsin is a prized asset of our shared tax resource, our commonwealth. Our dollars, spanning generations, have paid for the current bounty. Our shared lands, which our money paid for, are managed to produce timber, to produce game, to produce water. These shared resources provided so much for us. My family didn’t have money to go to exotic locations for vacation, but we could go tubing down the river or bobber fish for bluegill. We could get a permit for windfall timber and cut enough firewood to feed our woodstove all winter long. We could pitch a camp at a state park and “Escape to Wisconsin.” We were from here and proud to say so. I now read that some would have us pay in excess of $750 per deer permit (a 3,000% increase) and that public lands should be sold to private interests because private management is so much more effective than government managed lands. I am confused, startled, angry, sad, and unable to comprehend why anyone from here would want to sell off our most valuable asset.

If some government managed assets are deemed not to be in the best interest of our commonwealth why not extrapolate that further? Roads are expensive, requiring huge amounts of cash to build and maintain. We the people really don’t even get the best utilization of them. Freight transportation companies do. Our highways and interstates are choked with tractor-trailers pounding down our tax dollar bought and paid for concrete and blacktop. Our cars do not apply nearly the wear and tear that these vehicles do. And since private business is so much more efficient why don’t we sell off our roads to them? The reason is because we’d not be able to afford driving anywhere of significance. If you think air travel is expensive, sit down and do the math on traveling on a private roadway. The only way that level of infrastructure can be created and maintained is by our combined and shared revenue. Those freight haulers pay their share too by the way, but they couldn’t foot the burden alone.

We all share in the cost of so much: police protection, fire protection, roadways, corrections, water/air/soil protection. The common citizen as well as businesses all pay taxes to support these and many other enrichments to our lives, so for some to think that government serves no role or is inherently inefficient is incredibly ignorant and naïve. In 2008 it was not the government needing a bail out. GM, Chrysler and Wall Street did not lend money to Uncle Sam. Rather it was “We the People” (i.e. the government) rescuing them from their own financial ineptitude. The apologists blame the unions for the woes of these corporations. Other apologists absolve unions of any blame. Common sense dictates that both sides share in the trouble and both sides would need to bend to correct the situation. Isn’t that where we stand right now in Wisconsin?

Special interest money brought this ideological, political war to our state. The extremists currently holding public office would have us believe that money is union money. It is true that some union money is in the campaign. It is also true that Scott Walker brought in over $23 million in out of state donations. His super-sized yard signs and endless television ads are testament to the cash he has on hand. That the Wisconsin teacher’s union would throw some money in to this fray makes sense to me as they have much at stake. That well-heeled people from other states would donate tens of thousands of dollars to a governor from Wisconsin does not make sense. People with that kind of money are not in the habit of wasting their resources. These are men and women that place their money in ventures where they can reasonably expect a return on their investment. So please ask yourself: what return are they expecting here? Cheap land? Private schools? Relaxed environmental regulations to ensure lower operating expenses? Busted unions to ensure lower wages and benefits? What level of political favor would you expect if you handed a politician a check for $500,000?

I’m a son of Wisconsin. Wisconsin and her people have been good to me. I thrive here. I belong here. I live here. I believe in Wisconsin. I believe in our shared resources that our forebears paid for – our commonwealth. I believe that we can disagree, that we can debate, that we can be wary of each other but can overcome our differences. But the key is HOW we treat each other in the process. Our current leader admits to using “divide and conquer” tactics against his constituents – divide me from you and conquer us both. But we are the power. We cannot stand for a leader who will not compromise or consider another perspective – that is divisive at best and destructive at worst. Scott Walker is destructive. He arouses our basest nature and lures us to be dismissive of our neighbor. We’ve all been taught to love our neighbor. We’ve been taught to treat others the way we wish to be treated. Right now there is another “Jody” out there needing the help that this Jody received. Some need much more. We should not be looking to remove our tax dollars from these people. We should be looking to remove our current governor and replace him with someone deserving of us.
Please join me in recalling Scott Walker on June 5.

Jody Maier is a son of Wisconsin born and raised in the greater Wausau area. He enjoys the company of family and friends and communing with nature.


Middle Wisconsin Newsletter — May 2012   Leave a comment

Just in time for the big recall elections — the latest edition of the MW newsletter. Read, learn, enjoy, share !!!

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An attempt to reason with the unreasonable.   1 comment

(post by nathan k)

This is some kind of letter-to-the-editor I stumbled across today.  It’s generated some discussion in places I frequent, but I thought I’d bring it here for more discussion and a wider audience.   Here it is in all its glory :

Letter: Democrats like Seidel favor abortion

EDITOR: The Democratic Party is beginning to look more and more like the godless party. The ones who start all the trouble up if they don’t get their way. Those silly ads backed by Donna Seidel showing women whining because they can’t get their abortions are beyond belief. They are falsely targeting Jerry Petrowski. He never did what these ads claim.

Tom Barrett and Donna Seidel are pro-Planned Parenthood, they’re for late-term abortions and they’re big advocates of an explicit sexual education agenda in our public schools (pulling out all the stops). Do you want to see children indoctrinated with this filth?

Isn’t collective bargaining when union members can bargain for more and more money for themselves? That money has to come from somewhere, so the taxes will go even higher, hitting homeowners hardest. To me that seems like selfish greed.

There are a lot of us standing with our good governor who has done a terrific job, mostly balancing the budget. The other states are so afraid to take on the big unions and look at the mess they’re in. God bless the good teachers and other union people who are on Gov. Walker’s side. Vote Republican and get the decent, sensible party in.

Peggy Khadivian,



Anyway, I figured I should write some sort of response, so here goes…

‘The Democratic Party is beginning to look more and more like the godless party.’

How can we have meaningful debate about government – or anything for that matter – when this is the view people have of their neighbors ? My grandmother, rest her soul, was a Democrat and had a very deep faith in her religion. She also had faith in the basic goodness of others, no matter their opinions…a very different mind-set than what we see in this letter.

If you want to talk about actual atheists / agnostics, it’s an untruthful fallacy that those with such beliefs are without morals. Oftentimes, such people are shown to be more compassionate and giving than others, because they believe their reward and redemption comes during and directly after performing such actions, and not in a second life.

‘The ones who start all the trouble up if they don’t get their way.’

Funny how Freedom of Speech and Protest is a God-given right…but only as long as we believe exactly what the right-wingers believe and nothing else. I better not see another Tea-Party protest should the Democrats win another election…

‘Those silly ads backed by Donna Seidel showing women whining because they can’t get their abortions are beyond belief.’

I struggled with a response to this for a long time. Does the author really believe people love abortions ? I can’t speak directly for Donna Seidel, but I can’t imagine that she does. The opinion of the author is so far out there that I have a hard time believing they could really see other human beings this way. I‘m not sure what else to say in response to this outrageousness, so I’ll let someone else elaborate in the comments if they can…

‘They are falsely targeting Jerry Petrowski. He never did what these ads claim.’

Although Petrowski sure seems like a nice guy, showing up at all those pancake breakfasts with normal folks, his voting record is clear and indisputable. He voted in lock-step with the Tea-Party legislature to make cuts to education, make cuts to health services and overturn the equal-pay protection, among other offenses against everyday working folks. Perhaps this nice guy was bullied into submission, or had his legislative career threatened by right-wing party leaders over these pieces of legislation…but even if that’s the case, he’s not much of a leader himself, or able to stand up for his working-class constituents…and thus not worthy of the office.

‘Tom Barrett and Donna Seidel are pro-Planned Parenthood…’

Planned Parenthood helps people with many kinds of services, including preventative health for low-income families. Oftentimes these agencies are the only local offices for such important services…and yet the extreme right-wing wants to do away with them, putting the health of low-income families at risk. A stunning move from a supposedly pro-family, pro-middle class Republican party.

Either way, the hypocrisy of this mind-set is ridiculous. I’ve heard it said that ‘these people shouldn’t have so many kids if they can’t feed them’ …and yet they shouldn’t have access to contraception ? Yeesh ! What a double-standard.

You can bet the super-rich will still have access to contraception and safe abortion procedures even if their legislation against them goes through.

‘…they’re for late-term abortions and they’re big advocates of an explicit sexual education agenda in our public schools (pulling out all the stops). Do you want to see children indoctrinated with this filth?’

Um…excuse me ? I didn’t see any porn in my high school health class…just drawn diagrams of reproductive systems and very helpful information on harmful STDs. How horrible that I went through this ‘filthy indoctrination’.

Oftentimes parents are embarrassed to bring up and discuss these topics with their kids. Getting the information in a group classroom setting, by trained professionals, is a proven way to effectively communicate the consequences and dangers of sexual activity.

‘Isn’t collective bargaining when union members can bargain for more and more money for themselves?’

Collective bargaining is when two parties attempt to reach an agreement that is beneficial to both sides; hence the word ‘collective’, meaning ‘together’. Corporations, in their dealings with one another, with their employees and with the government, seek what is beneficial to them…why shouldn’t the parties on the other side of the deal look to do the same ? Corporations are by definition an organization of individuals who band together for a common interest – why is it wrong that the people they employ look to do the same ? When has it ever been the ‘right’ thing to do to take advantage of others of lesser standing and influence ?

‘That money has to come from somewhere, so the taxes will go even higher, hitting homeowners hardest. To me that seems like selfish greed.’

Let’s look to the study by Wisconsin’s non-partisan budget review board, which states that fully two-thirds of corporations pay no net taxes, whether through loopholes or redundant tax breaks. Maybe we should look to have corporations, who benefit greatly from the infrastructure and security that government provides, pay their fair share before we look to take more from those who have less.

Contrary to what the far-right would have you believe, lower-class people do pay taxes. In fact, they pay a much higher percentage of their income toward taxes than those in other income brackets, through payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes through rent, leaving much less of their income for essentials and other purchases.

‘There are a lot of us standing with our good governor who has done a terrific job, mostly balancing the budget.’

Here I’ll defer to State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, who in addition to working hard for and standing up for the little people, has done her homework

‘Those claims are not accurate. The [non-partisan] Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s recent analysis of the budget shows a remaining deficit of over a hundred million dollars going into the next budget year. Taxes on our lowest income families were increased $41 million by changes in the Earned Income Tax Credit, and taxes on homeowners were increased $8.1 million by changes in the Homestead Tax Credit. Gov. Walker also proposed the largest delay in debt payments in the history of Wisconsin–$468 million. The legislature cut that back, but still $323 million in debt payments were “kicked down the road.” Add this to the debt payments not made in the actual ‘budget repair bill’ and the total amount of outstanding principal due but not paid on General Fund debt is $528.3 million.’

And there you have it…more falsehoods from Walker and the Teapublicans…but some people just eat ‘em up.

‘The other states are so afraid to take on the big unions and look at the mess they’re in.’

Is that why Wisconsin has tanked in job growth since Walker took office ?

Now he says the rancor caused by the protests is to blame. I knew when the protests started they’d try to use this against us. I’m not going to try to explain this away – I’m going to own it. Damn right we’re mad. When you blame budget woes on working folks, and then look to balance those budget woes by cutting education, cutting health services, cutting government services that benefit those same hard-working folks, you’re going to piss a lot of people off. Hornets will go about doing the job nature gave them until you poke their nest…then you and everyone else will not want to be anywhere around after that. So who’s at fault – the hornets, or the jackass that poked the nest ? Take a good, hard look in the mirror, Walker and Company.

‘God bless the good teachers and other union people who are on Gov. Walker’s side. Vote Republican and get the decent, sensible party in.’

Government is about compromise and doing what’s best for all and not for a narrow few with all the money. Government is about listening to and cooperating with one another, working across aisles to meet those ends. It should be fair, just, open and transparent. The Tea-Party-led far-right Republican administration in this state has done the exact opposite of those things. God willing, the people of this state will come to their senses and reject these extreme and narrow ideologies and platforms, and instead elect leaders who will listen, cooperate, and show transparency in their actions…and most importantly, stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Middle Wisconsin Newsletter – April 2012   Leave a comment

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F O R W A R D.   Leave a comment

Fighting Bob would be proud.

On Wisconsin.

– nk –

Recall Supporters Are Wisconsinites, Too   14 comments

Seriously.  Does this lady look threatening to you ?

Seriously. Does this lady look threatening to you ?

post by nathan k

Wisconsin is becoming more and more divided. Every day we hear more stories of recall supporters being harassed, both verbally and physically, by Walker supporters. To try to gain some understanding, I sometimes try to imagine the thoughts and rationale of these Walker supporters, some of whom are lashing out in a very rude, angry and almost reflexive, instinctual, thoughtless fashion. To me, it seems that they must be very fearful people deep down inside, to display such anger openly and outwardly. What is it that they believe about those who are working to recall Walker and the Republican state senators ? Why should Walker supporters be afraid of recall supporters, or feel the need to be violent toward them ?

Internet posts and comments by Walker supporters I’ve read, some filled with seething vitriol and hate-filled disdain, seem to indicate they think recall supporters are godless heathens hell-bent on destroying Wisconsin…that because they do not support Walker and the Republican legislators, they must not want Wisconsin and its citizens to be prosperous. Walker supporters, I implore you — take a good look at the people on the street corner collecting recall signatures. They are young, old, wives, husbands, single, fathers, mothers, employees, retirees, veterans…people of all stripes, from all backgrounds, from all political persuasions. They are not monsters. They are Wisconsin citizens, and they are your neighbors. No one is paying them to do this. They are doing what the Constitution of Wisconsin and the law allows them to do, and they are doing what they believe in their heart of hearts is the right thing to do. Do you really believe that they want Wisconsin to crash and burn ? That they want chaos, anarchy and misery to rule ? Recall supporters are Wisconsinites, too…they love living here, and all that this beautiful state has to offer…their kids go to school here…they want their communities and their state to be healthy, strong and prosperous now and into the future…they believe in a fair, strong and just government to protect citizens and resources from those who would seek to take advantage of them… and they are doing what they are lawfully within their rights to do and what they believe is best in order to ensure that happens.

Consider the above statement and take a look again at what recall supporters stand for, at the core. Are we all really so very different ? We are all human just the same. Even if we do not agree on the whys and hows, violent behavior against someone you do not happen to agree with is uncalled for, unjustified and inexcusable. And take another look — contrary to what some Walker supporters might believe, recall supporters are going by the letter of the law in collecting the required signatures in order to make damn sure that they will not be accused of malfeasance, because they do not want to fail in their mission. It is Walker supporters who are telling each other to sign multiple and false names on recall petitions in order to hurt and discredit the recall; that is, when not scribbling on, tearing up or stealing the petition forms (a felony, by the way).

Walker supporters seem to think that recall supporters should just wait for the next election in order to try to make a change. However, if the current office holders who were sworn to serve ALL Wisconsin citizens upon taking the oath of office actually did so, there would not be a problem. No matter what party or group or class citizens belong to, the governor, the senators and the representatives must listen to the people they have sworn to serve. And Walker and Company are…not…listening. In fact, they have made a concerted effort to close off the very ability to speak up, to dissent. THIS is why there is an effort to recall them…not because the minority Democrats demand it for having lost the last election, not because Unions demand it, not because Obama demands it, not because shadowy out-of-state Communist / Marxist / Anarchist cabals demand it — it is because the citizens of Wisconsin demand fairness and cooperation, they demand to be heard, they demand transparency and accountability, as has been the Wisconsin way for over a hundred years. And when they receive none of these things, instead receiving the opposite, along with a callous, dismissive, and uncaring attitude from elected leaders trying to suppress dissenting voices, there is no other recourse but to recall and remove them before more damage is done. As recall supporters see it, at stake is not only the system of government that serves and protects us, and its integrity, but our reputation as a model to other states on how government should work…and indeed, our very way of life.

To recap the list of offenses :
The majority party — although elected by only slightly more than half of the votes cast in an election where less than half of the state’s population turned out to cast ballots, thus putting actual measured support at somewhere less than ¼ of the state — suddenly feels as though they have a mandate from on high to to exclude all outside input and legislate in any way they see fit, laws and consequences be damned. Legislative members of minority party, even though they were duly elected as well, were not allowed to be informed of, see or give input on legislative bills and proposals. Meetings were scheduled for odd hours, even the middle of the night, without the appropriate public notice required by law, sometimes without even notifying the minority party. Hurry-up votes were quickly called for and rammed through without allowing dissent or amendments by the minority party. Public hearings were scheduled for rooms too small to accommodate enough people, or held far from the communities the proposed legislation would affect, and again often on notice short of the requirements by open meetings laws. When hearings began to be filled with citizens asking well-thought out questions and opposing these actions, the meetings would be abruptly ended, no more questions taken.

New rules and laws were enacted in order to protect and consolidate power and to limit dissent. Dozens of government posts that were once filled by individuals who had earned it through hard work and experience are now instead filled by appointment — and cronyism and corruption in these appointments are unfortunately now more and more commonplace. State agencies which were once accountable to citizens or a bi- or non-partisan board now report only to the governor. Even the legislature has ceded some of their power to the governor at his request.

Corporate giveaways were handed out to campaign contributors, and with revenues now drained as a result, a ‘budget crisis’ declared. Education — our foundation for prosperous communities and a prosperous state, and the cornerstone of good jobs — was decimated with cuts totalling nearly a billion dollars. Services to those most in need in this depressed economy (incidentally, a depression not of their making), including children, the poor, the elderly, veterans, and the disabled, were cut severely. Hard-working state employees — our neighbors, people who work to serve their communities — were made out to be a root of the problem, and the enemy.

The spectre of ‘voter fraud’ was raised, even though incidents of punishable fraud in Wisconsin are less numerous than those of UFO sightings here, and the most restrictive Voter ID in the nation was passed, putting many of those less fortunate souls without an up-to-date ID in a catch-22 — no ID without a birth certificate, but no birth certificate without an ID, reduced services means your closest DMV could be many miles away, and oh — there’s a fee for that. A highly gerrymandered redistricting of the state was done in secret, by private lawyers, on the taxpayers’ dime. Even though Tea-Party Republican legislators were elected on the promise of jobs, the legislation coming out has been highly partisan and not at all focused on jobs — things like concealed carry, earlier hours for alcohol sales, and restrictions on sex-ed. And now, they finally claim they are working on jobs — by working with a mining company in private to roll back environmental oversight and protections that were enacted over decades by members of both parties to keep our natural resources, our land and water, safe, clean and beautiful. All of this flies in the face of what a once-proud Wisconsin was built on and known for — respect, cooperation, transparency, and a government that serves all, no matter their station in life, and not just the few, the moneyed and the privileged.

The frustration over these things quickly caused the streets in front of local courthouses and other buildings statewide to spill over with protesters from all backgrounds and affiliations. Badgers that self-identify as Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or none of the above all came into the streets around the Capitol and into the Capitol building itself, and they all agreed — this is not how Wisconsin should be run. They said that even though we may disagree, we must try to respect one another, to work with one another, to listen to one another so that we can come to mutually beneficial agreements; that we must not lay the blame at the feet of those not responsible and we must not lay the cuts on those least fortunate and least able to bear them. When the rapidly swelling protesters, made up of Wisconsinites from near and far and now numbering in the hundreds of thousands despite the cold and snow, demanded that legislators and the governor return to respectful, cooperative and transparent ways of acting and governing, the people’s Capitol building was instead shut.

The capitol is open now, but with restrictions — you can now carry a gun in the Capitol, but you cannot carry a camera or a sign. You cannot gather inside in groups larger than 4 people without a permit. This is not the Wisconsin that we grew up in, and know and love…this is not the Wisconsin that Republican Progressive ‘Fighting Bob’ La Follette helped build into a beacon of what a state government should be…this is no longer the Wisconsin where home-grown legislators, from both rural towns and big cities, from both sides of the aisle, worked cooperatively and respectfully with one another and for their constituents for decades to provide equal footing for all. This is instead totalitarianism. And this is why we must recall and remove those who have no respect for fairness and cooperation, for one another, for the institution they are a part of and the citizens they have sworn to serve, for our natural landscape, for our traditions, and for our system of government, and it is why we must retake our government by replacing them with representatives that do. Only then will we be able to overcome the bitter partisanship and the ugly divide that those in power have created and nurtured, so that we can begin to heal, begin to rebuild and be prosperous, strong, healthy, safe and UNITED once again.

nathan k is a lifelong resident of the Wausau, WI area, who loves music, tinkering, and the outdoors. He hopes to help return control of Wisconsin’s government to the people, where it rightfully belongs.

Middle Wisconsin Newsletter — December   Leave a comment

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