Note: All personal information has been redacted.
Thank you messages to defenders of workers' rights
My husband and I have added our signatures to the recall petition for Dan Kapanke in the LaCrosse area. We are unable to go out ourselves to gather signatures. We are very supportive of our Democtratic Senators for the actions they have taken to block Gov. Walkers budget plan.
Government of the people, by the people and for the people does not include the illegal stripping away of the rights of hard working Americans who have every right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through collective bargaining; this illegal act by Scott Walker and the other Wisconsin rethuglican senators is NOT democracy but rather oligarchy on steroids!
Keep fighting. Wisconsin working people support you. So do many old farts like me! Thanks for you inspiring work against the Dictator and his co-conspirators.
Dear Representative Pocan,
Thank you for taking a passionate stand for democracy during the Assembly session yesterday.
Dismayed as I am by the loss of workers' rights (and I am deeply dismayed), I am even more troubled by the total disregard for the democratic process and for Wisconsin law displayed by the Assembly leadership and it's Republican members.
Keep up the good fight!
To the "Wisconsin 14," the Democratic state senators who crossed state lines and held strong for weeks to prevent Gov. Walker's plan from being rammed through by the Republican Senate majority.
My name is Tom Geigner and I am from Minocqua, WI. I am writing to thank you & your fellow senators for supporting the hard working middle class of our state. My mother was a Marine during WWII and my father was a paratrooper, a two time Purple Heart recipient with the 101st Airborne "Band of Brothers" of which you are now with your fellow senators. On D - Day my dad jumped behind Utah beach & fought toward it, while his kid brother who came ashore on Utah in the early hours was killed fighting inland toward his brother. During the Battle of the Bulge, Dad's unit was sent in with few supplies or ammunition to hold a town called Bastogne which was quickly surrounded by the advancing Germans. This caused one of the American paratroopers to make the statement, " The poor bastards have us surrounded". Days later the Germans demanded in writing a surrender from the American commander, to which the Americans replied in writing, "NUTS!" (a strictly negative slang of the time). The 101st held the town until support from Patton's 3rd Army arrived, thus changing the direction of the Battle of the Bulge & leading to an eventual American victory. After the siege of Bastogne the 101st troops were nicknamed, " The Battered Bastards of Bastogne".
I relay the previous story to tell you what my parents & grandparents taught me - that "no price is too big to pay to do the right thing". You, the Wisconsin 14, are doing the RIGHT THING. You "Band of Brothers", the Wisconsin 14, are keeping the state of Wisconsin from being taken over by a dictator. The governor & the other 19 senators have your back to the wall but you do not surrender. You will go down in our state's history as the Wisconsin 14, much like the "Battered Bastards of Bastogne". I am 53yrs old & have only been a citizen of Wisconsin for 19yrs but because of you I could never be prouder of anything (other than my family) than to call myself a Wisconsinite. For that & all your service & your family's sacrifice, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The people of Bastogne to this day let families of the paratroopers who saved their town stay & live with them while visiting Europe, to show their appreciation. I offer all of you the same consideration - if you're in Minocqua, you will forever be welcome in my home, what is mine is yours. It is truly an honor to have every one of you represent me in Madison. Again THANK YOU.
I am 70 years old, have witnessed the slaying of President Kennedy and then assassination of Dr King. I watched the Civil Rights Marches and protested the Vietnam War.
What I witnessed in Madison horrifies me more than any of these. I was a union Rep in the 70s when bargaining was in its infancy. I went to Madison to lobby for arbitration rights. I lead members of my union in picketing when we were treated unfairly. At least then we were treated as fellow humans worthy of respect. In Madison I see workers treated as pawns in some kind of political game-denied their right to speak against legislation that is crucial to their lives.
I would have understood anger but the cold blooded indifference of the republicans who blatantly ignored the people around them and calmly stripped them of their rights was blood chilling.
The only thing that kept me from despair were you 14 people. Your devotion to the citizens of Wisconsin and to the preservation of our democracy was formidable. You left your homes and families without hesitation so you could protect us. Knowing that there are still politicians like you gives me hope that others will follow your example. Whether we win or loses, your names will never be forgotten by the people of Wisconsin.
In defense of public employees and public education
I live in Shorewood, WI and am a private school teacher who has a daughter in the public school system. Although my paycheck won't be affected by Mr. Walker's legislation, I and many others in our local community and state will be devastated by the changes the governor has pushed through the senate.
We moved to Shorewood from Chicago in part because of the quality of the public schools, and now we very concerned about the quality of education our daughter will receive and more importantly, we are concerned about the fundamental philosophical shift in education that Walker trumpets. He wants a shift to publicly-funded religious education and publicly-funded charter schools that will lead to an even more disparate educational experience for students than we already have, creating a bigger achievement gap and more economic disparity among classes and races.
If the congressional Republicans and Mr. Walker think that schools and children and families won't be devastated by his budget, they are simply wrong. Sure, everyone must sacrifice and give a bit more, but this legislation targets the foundation, the backbone of the state of Wisconsin and of our society, and that foundation will crumble under the heavy weight of this shortsighted, punitive legislation. We in Shorewood are already feeling the affects of this agenda: our daughter's wonderful Kindergarten teacher told us today that she'll have to retire early in order to afford her health care in retirement. If she waits a year, she won't be able to afford to retire. So we've lost one great teacher already. More are to come. Another Kindergarten teacher at the same school doesn't think she'll be able to stay in the profession because she cannot afford to send her children to college and absorb the pay cuts Walker demands. She intends to try and get a job at the university her child attends so she can have some tuition relief. This is not what will move Wisconsin or the nation forward to a brighter future. It will lead to poorer quality schools and will devastate the teaching profession.
Teachers and other public workers shouldn't be vilified like the Republicans and our governor are vilifying them right now. They help our state, our families, live happier, healthier, safer lives, and in the end, isn't that what we all want?
This PFAW supporter offers an important historical reminder for the Wisconsin GOP
It was Mrs. Adams who first said: "John, please remember the ladies" during our Revolutionary War, the founding of this country, and the writing of our Constitution.
Now, I ask you to remember the 145 ladies who died 100 years ago in their attempt to organize a union. They were locked in by their employer and at the famous Triangle Shirt Waist Fire, they burned to death. Unions in Wisconsin have set the way so that even those of us who are not union members benefit - wage and hour laws, safety, etc.
With no outside forces to watch employers, the ladies of today stand about the same chance that those in the Triangle fire did. Please don't take away what so many have, and are currently dying for in foreign countries: the right to organize. I'm a woman who doesn't want to have the girls of today fight for rights that are being lost by Governor Walker.
A sad day...
A sad day for Wisconsin -- but what a fight. When George Bush was re-elected Garrison Keeler said" We'll get through this flying high. No lift without the wind in your face and other things." Knowing Walker will only be a one term governor has helped.
On Gov. Walker's address...
As I listened to Governor Walker's address on the budget, I felt as though we are headed for a dark age in our state. His budget prioritizes political expediency over the difficult work of making our education system better, of doing a better job of teaching our kids. If he were interested in getting good value for our tax money, he would seek concessions from unions on performance pay and being able to fire demonstrably poor teachers. For these he could argue credibly that they were needed for improving education. What he has done seems best suited for crippling his political foes, at the expense of education and other services we all need to sustain a civil society. And so I am convinced that Scott Walker is using the office to which he was elected more for his own gain than for the good of our state. For this reason, I support recalling him from this office at the earliest possible date.
To Governor Walker
I have lived in the wonderful state of Wisconsin my entire 51 years. I have been proud to be from a place with progressive traditions where the welfare of its citizens has been the top priority.
Your budget repair bill and budget make it clear that you care nothing at all for the people of this state. You are destroying education, health care, collective bargaining for workers, municipal governments, the environment….and the list goes on. The illegal and immoral vote on collective bargaining by the Senate is an outrage, and you should be embarrassed and ashamed! Do you really think you are going to get away with ramming bad legislation down our throats? You obviously don't know the people of Wisconsin.
Since you don't care about the people and all of the essential things mentioned above, what exactly DO you care about? Furthering your political ambitions? Rubbing elbows with billionaires? Ensuring a Republican president in 2012? Taking over the world? I can only guess, but whatever your goal is, it's plain to your constituents that the welfare of Wisconsin's people is at the bottom of your list.
I don't expect anything I say to hold sway with you; I'm not wealthy, and I definitely didn't vote for you. But I believe that you have shown who you really are to the entire nation, and your days as the "leader" of Wisconsin are numbered. We don't take kindly to being bullied, cheated, and deceived.
Enjoy that SUV while you can.
I didn't trust you as County Exec in Milwaukee, and feared what might happen if you were elected as Governor of Wisconsin. So quickly, my fears have been realized. I will do everything I can to support any recall efforts aimed at you and the Republicans who supported this injustice. You continue to be a two-faced tool of the wealthy. How does a middle class guy so wrong?
To Republican Senators
Dear Sen. Olsen,
We want to express are strong disappointment in the way the Budget Repair Bill has been handled. It is not just what is being done; people of good will can disagree on the issues, that's what makes our democracy work. It is the way it is being done.
For America to succeed, you need to work WITH people, not against them. It's in our name: the "United" States of America. That means we work together on issues. Unfortunately, that's not what we have seen for the past month in Madison. The "my way or the highway" approach to legislation is terrible for our state, now people and groups are pitted against each other, public business is tied up, and expensive recall efforts are under way. This didn't have to happen.
We are extremely disappointed that you chose to go along with the majority in both procedure and the transparent attack on working people. We urge you to show some true leadership, get together a responsible group of senators, work across party lines, and govern, not ram through and command. That's just more big government.
We think there's been a mistake in concept here. Winning an elected majority is not the same as winning the Super Bowl; it isn't a "winner take all" contest. The Packers can take their trophy and gloat, but you have been elected to represent . . .everybody! And governing means compromising to meet conflicting goals. We will hope and look for a change in attitude and policy in coming weeks.
Thank you very much. We will close with a quote that seems to have been forgotten recently: "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost". Ronald Reagan, Sept. 1st, 1980.
A plea for reasonableness...
I received your winter 2010 update to your constituents and wanted to comment on one article in your update: "Transportation Fund Raids". I totally agree with your position on this issue. When monies are allocated to certain funds, the money from those funds should not be transferred to other funds to be used for expenses. I want to urge you to maintain this position when ideas pop-up to use assets from the state's retirement system to pay down the state deficit. I have been reading about suggestions from Governor Walker's administration to remove funds from the retirement system for deficit reduction. I am strongly opposed this idea. I am told that Wisconsin's retirement system is in good shape and one of the strongest in the country. Removing funds would only weaken the system.
I am also very concerned with the path deficit-reduction options have taken. Before Mr. Walker even took office, misinformation was being spread that immediately began to divide the citizenry rather than unite. State employees and unions were suddenly under attack as the "haves". Because many county employees are union members, I feel county employees need to be included in this attack. I am a county employee. I am a social worker for a nearby county, providing child protective, mental health and juvenile justice services for residents of one of the financially poorest counties in Wisconsin. I have been labeled one of the "haves" and I am insulted by this. My annual income is barely $38,000; my hourly wage is considerably lower than those who perform the same services in surrounding counties. My health and dental insurance premiums continue to go up. Currently, I am responsible for 17% of my health insurance premium. In order for my employer to attract and keep quality staff, my employer pays for our pension contributions. I am not on my way to becoming a millionaire. It seems that many forget that public employees are taxpayers too (the have-nots).
The Walker Administration seems poised to push for an increase in the amount employees pay into their pension plans or to completely eliminate the pension system currently in place. I feel it is totally unfair to insinuate that one segment of the state's workforce, state and county employees, is significantly responsible for the financial mess Wisconsin finds itself in. I am a reasonable person. In order to help bring down this huge budget deficit, I would consider picking-up a small portion of my pension contribution. But to require significant responsibility for pension contributions or to eliminate the pension system altogether would be unreasonable.
The administration's proposals will have an effect beyond the mass exodus of qualified and hard working employees. In the county of my employment, employees in my position are considered part of the county emergency response system. In case of an emergency, like windstorms that knock out electricity on cold Fall days, we are relied upon to step-in and assist county residents by manning emergency shelters and getting food, water, generators and heat to those in need. When my employer loses employees, the county loses immediate emergency responders. The proposals being suggested would also force employees to get second jobs to keep up with expenses. Second jobs would make employees unavailable for emergency response needs.
I strongly urge you to support efforts to protect the state retirement system and to ensure that the pain involved with getting our budget balanced be shared by ALL, from those who have their offices in our state capitol building to those working on the front lines in all 72 counties of this great state. I would also ask that the politicians stop scapegoating public employees, union and non-union, for being the cause of this economic problem.
Pleas for reasonableness (and Senate rules) ignored...
I am ashamed for your actions down in Madison. You have soiled the reputation of this great state. You and your cohorts have lied again and again, to the point where you can no longer be trusted. I have sent you countless e-mails as well as a written letter asking for you to do the right thing and to stand as a strong leader. You have failed miserably. Crimes against the state have been committed. Our state Constitution has been violated. You have violated your oath to protect the Constitution. You need to resign!
You have insulted me and the hard work I do to protect our abused and neglected children. As you give away our money to the fat cat donors, the People suffer. Again, SHAME ON YOU!