Vol. 6    No. 6
March 24, 2011

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Reflections/Jonathan Gramling   
                                 Recall Effort
While the protests over Governor Scott Walker’s “budget repair bill” and its provisions to gut collective
bargaining rights and make major policy changes to Medicaid and other programs are still continuing,
especially on Saturdays, a lot of the fight has been taken to the courts and the election process.

On the court front, Dane County Judge MaryAnn Sumi issued a temporary restraining order preventing the
“non-fiscal” budget repair bill — passed while the 14 Democratic state senators, the “Wisconsin 14,” were in
Illinois to prevent a quorum of 20 senators being present in order to pass a fiscal-related bill — from taking
effect on March 25. The budget repair bill will sit in limbo while claims that open meeting laws were violated
when the bill was passed and that the bill did have fiscal implications are sorted out.

And then there is the recall effort going on against eight Republican state senators who have backed
Governor Walker 100 percent and eight of the Democratic state senators who had fled to Illinois.
I was left to wonder why the Republicans selected some of the Democratic senators. State Senator Spencer
Coggs is one of the eight facing recall by the Republicans. And quite frankly, do the Republicans think that
Coggs’ district — with a large number of people of color — is going to turn him out at the behest of a vastly
predominant Euro-American organization? I hardly doubt it. What was their thinking there? For the life of me, I
just can’t figure it out.

And of course, the Republicans could probably raise the same question with some of the Republicans that
Democrats have chosen to mount recall efforts against. So I went to the upper eastside of the Milwaukee
area with Bryan Grau, a Madison public school teacher, last Saturday to get a feel for the recall effort against
State Senator Alberta Darling. Her district is spread from Shorewood on Lake Michigan up to Mequon and
over to Menominee Falls. Apparently in her last re-election fight, Darling won by only 2,000 votes and
therefore someone thought she was vulnerable.

When we got to the recall office in Shorewood, there were people streaming in and out. Primarily door-to-door
canvassers were going out to assigned areas. The best way to get a sense of how things were going, I felt,
was to do some canvassing myself. Bryan and I were assigned to some neighborhoods in Mequon, more than
likely, the bastion of Darling’s support.

Mequon is an area populated by the upper middle class and the upper class. The smaller homes could
probably fit three of the condos I live in within their walls. The larger ones were as large as the Governor’s
Mansion in Maple Bluff and the antebellum homes that I used to see off in the distance during my travels in
Mississippi and Louisiana. In order to get to these homes, we had to walk around a quarter mile down their
driveways just to be told ‘No, I will not sign the Alberta Darling recall petition,’ and then turn around to walk
that quarter mile again. I didn’t want to be biased and I did want to give everyone a chance even though I had
that voice whispering in my ear, ‘Why bother!’

There were some people who appeared to be afraid of me, cowering a little behind their storm door and curtly
saying ‘No.’ Most of the people were real polite and said, ‘No, I support Alberta and the Governor.’ And I
would thank them and say good-bye. This is the way that democracy should work and the civility that we
should give each other in spite of any political differences. These folks reminded me of my deceased father.
They were firm in their beliefs, but cordial. It was nothing personal.

And then there was the guy in a big, old house who said, ‘I hope Alberta Darling kicks your ass.’ Now if I were
Geraldo Rivera from Fox News, I guess I would be saying that I was threatened with bodily harm by one of the
Republican hordes. But I won’t because I knew the guy just said in a very colorful way that he hoped Alberta
Darling won any recall effort by a large margin.

There was one guy who got in my face and said ‘If you brought me recall papers for the Wisconsin 14, I would
sign them.’ I took that as a no. He was angry, but I wasn’t going to buy into it. And to this day, I’m not sure
what he had to be angry about. He lives in a secluded multi-million dollar home and I’m sure his stocks are
doing just fine. I guess it is all relative because I do know that an unemployed worker running out of
unemployment insurance and with no health insurance just might have something to be miffed at.
At the end of the day, I ended up with no signatures and Bryan had gotten one. But I did meet some nice
people and that was a good thing. I do hope that a day will come once more that we can work together in
spite of our differences.

The talk back at the recall headquarters was that over 50 percent of the signatures needed to recall Darling
had been gotten although the remaining 50 percent will be the hardest and it will take a lot of volunteers to do
it. The outcome of these recall efforts will decide how the state senate and assembly districts will be drawn.
And that will decide the course of Wisconsin politics — and how Wisconsin’s way of life will look — over the
next ten years. And with the radical nature of Governor Walker’s ideas and policies, a lot is riding on the
outcome. Use your constitutional rights to be involved in the electoral process and shape the policies that
will eventually shape your lives.