March 4, 2011

Or else, or else, or else, damnit!

This image -- borrowed from the iconic 1973 National Lampoon -- came to mind Thursday night during Gov. Scott Walker's press conference.

As CNN later reported:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday warned 14 absent lawmakers trying to stall his controversial budget bill to return to the state Capitol immediately to vote on the measure, or layoff notices will be sent to 1,500 public employees before the weekend.
"Unfortunately, if we don't have action by tomorrow we have a legal and moral obligation to start forewarning people," Walker said.
I know, it's just the governor and Republican senators' latest "negotiating" tactic -- following a virtual lockdown of the State Capitol, a takeover of Democratic senators' staffers, threatened fines of $100 a day, border guards threatening incarceration, the end of direct deposit and a declaration that the senators are in contempt, or something.

But it definitely makes you wish you had a union to protect you, eh? Even union-haters are coming around, as every nationwide poll in the last few weeks has shown. The latest Rasmussen poll in Wisconsin gave Walker a 52% to 44% drubbing.

Walker's layoff threat is hardly idle, since his budget cuts state aid to municipalities and school districts by more than $1 billion, while at the same time prohibiting them from raising taxes to cover the shortfall. Without new revenue, it's clear that many governing bodies -- just as the private sector has done for the past few years -- will have to shrink their workforce. But Walker's attempt to lay the blame on the 14 Democrats is unnecessarily heavy-handed.

What's next: take their wives and children hostage? (Damn! I didn't mean to give him any ideas...)

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March 2, 2011

Capitol closed off, so Mason takes his office outside

The State Capitol is -- mostly -- closed off. Many entrance doors are blocked; even people with scheduled meetings with their representatives are being denied access. At first, representatives' staffers had to go down to the doors to get their constituents in, but even that was limited. We've even heard of a few state representatives turned back because they forgot their ID's -- or refused, on principle, to show them.

But where there's a will, there's a way. The picture above shows volunteers hauling a desk through the window of the Wisconsin State Capitol office of Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, so he could meet with constituents today -- outside, but alongside, the Capitol.Working in Mason's favor was the fact that his office last session was on the third floor, but this session -- because some Republican favored his old space and Republicans, thanks to their majority, have first pick -- his office is on the ground floor.

So setting up a temporary office outside wasn't that difficult. Mason and a few other lawmakers met with constituents outside this afternoon. No word how long this will continue. The temperature, by the way, was 24 degrees...

"We literally climbed out because we can't get to our constituents," said Mason. "It's taking a long time for me to get in. We're going to take our responsibilities outside and listen to what the public has to say. Even if the governor doesn't want to hear it, we do."

More on the story HERE, from The Progressive.

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March 1, 2011

Top Five Reasons to Attend March 7's Empty Bowls Fundraiser

Racine's Empty Bowls 2011 fundraiser is 11 am. to 2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. Monday, March 7 at the Masonic Center, 1012 Wisconsin St. Here's five reasons not to miss this great local event: 

  1. Lunch and/or dinner is taken care of. Show up and get soup prepared by Racine's finest chefs. 
  2. It's affordable. Lunch or dinner costs $15 per meal (you keep the bowl), $5 for children under 10 (plastic bowl) or $7 for "soup to go."  
  3. You get a handmade, ceramic bowl designed by local artists and students. See the photos below ... the bowls are beautiful, and so is the effort of the local schools and organizations who create hundreds of bowls for the fundraiser.
  4. All proceeds benefit local charities. Since 1997, Empty Bowls has donated more than $78,000 to hunger and homeless assistance programs in Racine. 
  5. People in our community go hungry on a daily basis. Empty Bowls is an opportunity to help people in need. Bring your kids and teach them there is always an empty bowl that needs to be filled. 

And a big bonus reason ... 

Honor all of the hardwork by volunteers who make this annual event possible. Here are photos of students at St. Joseph School and Walden High School who created and contributed bowls to the event: 

St. Joe's 

And students at Walden ... 

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