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The Late Show

For various reasons I need to leave Madison tomorrow and head back to Menomonie.  Then for various reasons I need to come back to Madison on Friday.  Interesting times.

Let me try to catch you up on  some of what has happened lately.  This is from various sources in the Cheddarsphere, TV news in Madison, and divining the ether.

At the moment there still are, to the best of my knowledge, several thousand people in the capitol building.  The Finance Committee hearings are still continuing - at least as far as I can tell since the Wisconsin Eye feed of the hearing seems to be fairly unreliable, at least from my hotel room.  The hotel room is problematic because the bandwidth here seems to be less than optimal, which is making it difficult to get today's video up.

It's been a day of going to protests, talking to people, and having batteries die left and right, which is why there was very little streaming video from this evening's rally.  The rally this evening had, I would guess, 5000 people outside the building.  After the rally they all went in the building.  As far as I know most of them are still there. - Update - as of 10 pm, I hear that people have been leaving, and things are much quieter now in the rotunda and at the JFC hearings.

Schools are being canceled for tomorrow in many of the school districts around Madison.  WEAC has suggested that teachers around the state should be in Madison tomorrow, so I expect there may be still more people tomorrow than the 25 thousand or so that were here today. It also seems likely that many of the schools around the state will be closed tomorrow. 

Supposedly the Joint Finance Committee has been meeting on and off, trying to draft amendments to the bill.  These have primarily revolved around re-instating benefits to LTE's, and changing the reovcation of bargaining rites to end after two years. Republicans are insisting that the changes that they are making are responsive to the criticism of the bill, but Democrats are not having it, Jennifer Schlling has said that this is "like putting lipstick on a pig - or chapstick, because you can't see it".  Republicans claim that there are enough votes to pass the bill, and they are going to take it to the floor tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Scott Walker insists that these are minor changes to how the state deals with employees.  I think the issue here is that most of the Republicans have concentrated on the changes to benefits and salary, while almost all of the Union employees I have talked to are particularly upset about the parts of the bill that revoke the ability of unions to negotiate, except for very limited negotiation over salary.

The DOA is trying currently to decide if the sick-out around the state is actually a strike, and how they are going to deal with this.

Reports are coming in that it is becoming very difficult to contact lawmakers, since they're not able to deal with the very large number of calls.  Many people are getting busy signals or recordings when they call.

Three hours into discussion, I understand that the Joint Finance Committee is still hashing things out, and has not voted.

I'll try to keep posting on this - but it's going to be a long night.


February 16, 2011 - 10:14pm