WI Voices: The Activist


Below is a recent email sent by Chris Wondra, a grassroots organizer and blogger, in Wisconsin’s Senate District 10.  He and his wife, Lisa, have been active in the recall of Senator Harsdorf and now in the election of Shelly Moore in her place.  All six recall elections against GOP senators are slated for Tuesday, Aug. 9.  Chris later turned this email into a blog and posted it on his site.  It not only summarizes the blow-by-blow battle for WI, but captures the rollercoaster of emotions that many Wisconsinites have felt for the last 6 months. 

This…is the pulse of the Wisconsin activist.



Some of you are, no doubt, growing tired of of these political posts.  I don’t blame you.

By nature, I’m not that into politics. And truth be told, I grow weary of this fight.

But it’s stuff like this that blows my mind and reminds me to keep shouting.  The truth must be known.

Please read this link: GOP redistricting maps make dramatic changes

With recalls pending, GOP releases redistricting plan: A quick vote . . . before recall elections . . . would let Republicans lock down advantages at the ballot box for the next 10 years by drawing maps in their favor.”

Remember: Today, Republicans own Wisconsin.  Please consider though, who owns the Republicans–and what has happened so far:

  1. Refusal to listen to constituents, even after unprecedented public outcry
  2. Votes and discussion behind closed doors (violated open meetings LAW)
  3. Ignored judge’s orders
  4. Made it harder to vote
  5. Run fake candidates, forcing Democratic primaries and increased the cost of the recall elections by over $400,000
  6. Violence in the Supreme Court
  7. Decimated public education (and demoralized educators) while at the same time funding private schools in Milwaukee and cutting taxes.
  8. Rolled back environmental protections.
  9. Rolled back citizens rights by making it harder for people injured by negligent corporations to get justice.
  10. And now, rushed to redraw the district voting lines BEFORE recall elections–which would give them an advantage for at least the next 10 years.

Let’s be clear.  Republicans OWN Wisconsin.  From the Governor, to the Senate, to the Assembly to the Supreme Court.  They can do whatever they want–without discussion, without compromise, without negotiation.  And this is exactly what they are doing.

This blatant power grab is unprecedented and remarkable.  Anywhere.  And at any time in history.

Let this be another powerful reason why this election is like no other. We have to take back the Senate NOW.  If you think this bit of  legislation is suspicious, just consider what will happen if we lose these summer elections.

You think they are done destroying public education, rolling back environmental protections, making it harder to vote, privatizing government institutions (like schools, prisons, the department of commerce, Wiscnet–the NON-PROFIT internet supplier to libraries and schools) grabbing power at every opportunity?  By their own admission, they’re only getting started.

These are the kinds of political games that people are growing so tired of.  They (Walker, Harsdorf and the rest) are getting beat up in the polls.  So what do they do?  Change the rules . . . again.

Seriously, every morning I think–I’m done sending emails, marching in parades, writing letters to the editor, making videos.  I’ve got a garden to weed.  Bills to pay.  Kids to take care of.  The other day, somebody referred to me as a “good activist,” and I thought, what the hell has happened to me?  I’m out.  I’m done.

This is not who I am.

But then, by the end of the day, I undoubtedly hear or read something else that is happening in Madison.  And my blood boils anew.  I am aghast.  I can’t believe my eyes/ears.

I do this because I am deeply concerned about our families, our schools, our communities, our children, our chances.

Please do what you can, everyone, to understand and then shed the light of truth on Wisconsin.  After all, we are all in this together.  Or at least . . . we used to be.




So here we are.  The reluctant activists.  The “good activists.”  I’ll be the first to admit – I was a lazy citizen before this time.  Sure I voted in the presidential elections…most of the time.  But I could never be bothered with school board elections, state or local leaders, or even referendums.  It was all too much to bother with.  It was all a game to me. 

The last 6 months has changed everything.

Gov. Walker and Sen. Harsdorf’s extreme budget repair bill generated a collective uproar.  A new community of “reluctant activists” began to form, becoming different people than they thought they were.  Regular working people, retired people, students – were all instantly mobilized.  They were made up of District 10 people from as far north as Siren and Grantsburg as far south as Prescott and River Falls, as far East as Menomonie, and as far west as New Richmond and Hudson… and all the smaller communities in between.  Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls are like adopted D10’ers… volunteering en mass whenever needed. 

We call ourselves “outside agitators”, laughing at the absurd, dismissive title the senator has given her own constituents.  We greet each other at each event: parades, rallies, speeches, debates, sign making and letter writing parties, canvassing meetings, and Facebook groups.  You’ve got to give him this much – Gov. Walker is an incredible community organizer.  We have made life-long friends, sharing a journey.  We know that our response, our numbers, and our passion have caught the attention of the nation.  But more than that – we have surprised ourselves.  We didn’t realize how much power there was in citenzery…if we even thought about things like that at all. 

And for those of you who read this and believe another way – I hope you understand us a little better.  Search our words, there is nothing here that displays any ill will toward you.  If you have  it hard, too, then we are on the same side.  The same side.  We all deserve better. Instead of fighting between each other, we should turn a critical eye on anyone who would tell us that instead of prospering together, we should “all have to suffer together”.  No.  Not in Wisconsin.  We have too much dignity and love of country to believe that the only legacy we will leave our children is that of suffering and a race to the bottom.  We are too creative of a people for that.  Life is about living…and caring…and listening to each other.

 It is time to get back to that.   Vote Tuesday, August 9.

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15 Responses to WI Voices: The Activist

  1. former dem says:

    Truth is a good thing. A few addendums:

    #1The governor and elected legislators did listen to those who elected them. Some people may be having “buyers remorse”, but many of us aren’t. A balanced budget was needed, Walker through collective bargaining reform gave local governments the tools needed to deal with budget tightening at the state level.

    #2 The question of violation of open meeting law was settled by the WI Supreme Court when it decided it had no right to “intermeddle” with the legislature’s interpretation of its own rules. You may not like it, but the legislature was acting within its rules.

    #3 The WI Supreme Court ruled Judge Sumi overstepped her bounds in delaying publication of the collective bargaining bill. Supreme court elections are not supposed to be political, yet the unions turned the 2011 Prosser-Kloppenburg election into just that. I like to think a judge is interpreting the law, not legislating from the bench.

    #4 anyone legally eligible who wants to vote will be able to vote. I don’t recall anything in the state or fed constitution stating voting must be convenient. I would WALK 4 miles (one way) to cast my ballot if I couldn’t get a ride from a neighbor or the local political party.

    #6 violence in the WI supreme court. What’s interesting is the background information on the long simmering tensions between judges.

    One has to wonder how a physically larger female justice gets put in a choke hold by a physically smaller and shorter male.

    #7 Decimated public education. Nice rhetoric, but looking at PolitifactWI presents the other side.

    This one mentions Shelly Moore in it:
    “The 2011-13 state budget “cuts overall funding for public schools by $1.6 billion”
    rated: mostly false

    and a twist, with Gov Doyle and the democratic legislature in the 2009-2011 budget cutting education $294 million.

    rated: true

    And on funding private schools in Milwaukee by taking public education money from districts, rated FALSE


    that’s all I can do for now. maybe i’ll be back to take issue with your other accusations.

    • A Westerdahl says:

      Former Dem I agree. Too bad they can’t listen, and get the right information.
      Some people just tune you out.

    • ktinwi says:

      former dem:

      1. The supreme court decision was the one that “legislated from the bench.” It specifically did not address whether the Open Meetings Law had been violated, which it clearly had. Compare the supreme court’s decision in this case to the others cited within it (like the Milw. Journal Sentinel case) and you’ll see how corrupt this decision was.

      2. Justice Bradley is 6 inches shorter than Justice Prosser, but any way you look at this, Justice Prosser should resign.

  2. Candace Bettendorf says:

    Your points against Sheila Harsdorf are interesting.
    1. Unprecedented public outcry: This was a special interest group, called Union, wantiing special rights for their own group. It certainly was not a majority of Wisconsin voters. This group, made up of both Wisconsin citizens and many union members from out of state, stormed the capitol, making it difficult for the legislators to get to and to do their jobs. Not all states have the collective bargaining that this groups assumes is their ‘right’. Even President Franklin Roosevelt, democrat of democrats, was against public union bargaining.
    2. Violated open meetings law? No–the legislature had special rules for situations such as occured during this time. The law was not violated.
    3. Ignored judge’s orders? Judge Sumi was the one who was out of order. The Supreme Court ruled that she overstepped her boundaries, and should have kept her nose out.
    4. Made it harder to vote? Voter ID’s. People manage to have photo ID’s available to cash a check, to board an airplane, to get welfare, and for a myriad of other reasons . Getting a voter ID is not difficult, it is free if it is for voting (according to the paper I received at the last election), and it is the law in other states. I have not heard of any good reason to NOT have voter IDs.
    5. Run fake candidates, …increased the cost of $400,000.00. Hmmm… The election that was won by David Prosser, and won by over 7000 votes, had a recount insisted upon by the Democrat candidate. That recount cost approximately $750,000.00 according to a speaker on MPR.

    etc, etc, etc.

  3. wizconie says:

    Candace, I agree completely. However, understand that the point of Ms Herron’s pieces are to provide a one-sided leftwing view. She has never hidden that fact. I doubt these columns influence any voters which is clearly her intent.

  4. Chuck says:

    You seem a little lose with the facts. Candice B covered much of your errors.

    Violence in the Supreme Court? Yes, when the Democrat justice attack Prosser.
    Can you name one, just one, Wisconsin citizen over the age of 17 who doesn’t have an ID?
    How come Milwaukee public school teachers tend to send their children to private schools, but want to deny poor children of color to have the same benefit?

  5. Chris says:

    You’re paying attention to school board politics now? Good. Go talk to your board members and ask them how the new budget has helped them. Ask them what it was like to negotiate with the teachers union. Find out how much give and take there was. I attend my local school board meeting every month. They would never openly criticize (for obvious reasons) but one could easily read between the lines. During the annual budget meeting, the reality of what was going on was front and center. Go ahead and vote this union leader into office. It won’t be long before your property taxes skyrocket or your district has to consolidate. If you like your schools, vote Harsdorf. If you want to continue funding runaway benefits, vote in the union leader. I laugh at the way she distances herself from her leadership. All you have to do is Google her name and it’s all right there. BTW it’s not on some crazy right wing group’s site. It’s on the WEAC site. About the sixth or seventh item on the search. Stunningly, most people have never thought about doing that.

  6. former dem says:

    It seems the comment I posted about 24 hours ago is still “waiting moderation.”

    I also voted for Harsdorf, and do NOT have buyer’s remorse. Walker, Harsdorf and the Rs have taken the courageous stand to balance the state budget, and while the solution may not be perfect it is a solution.

    I posted a comment with lot of links refuting the claims made at the top of this blog, and I suspect those are causing the moderator to wait.

    PolitifactWI has taken a look at a lot of this blogs claims. I suggest going to that site and exploring it for yourself.

    For instance, funds are not going from area districts to support Milwaukee private schools. Doyle also cut the education budget and hoped federal stimulus dollars would replace the cut so no one would notice. Unfortunately, his math was off and the cut ended up being about $294 MILLION dollars.

    I laugh at the screams over the redrawn district lines. Anyone over age 30 with a little bit of political knowledge knows the democrats would do the same thing to the republicans if they could. Neither party is honorable.

    This blog author seems to link to articles written before the budget was passed. That helps create the “the sky is falling” fear, but is misleading and why additional research is needed to learn the truth.

    Moore has questionable integrity. She hasn’t resigned her place on the WEAC leadership board while accepting donations from WEAC-PAC. That could be seen as a conflict of interest to most people. The MacIver Institute website has a chart showing the money flowing into the 6 democrat recall candidates campaigns, both direct and indirect support. If she wins, no doubt the seat was bought.

  7. Free Wisconsin says:

    Sheila Harsdorf, Governor Walker and the republicans are finally giving us freedom! We are no longer being held hostage by the unions and liberals. Our state will finally be competitive and prosper.

    As for school districts, they need to use their budgets for properly. They need to operate within their means. There is no need to by expensive computer whiteboards for the schools. There is no need to spend exorbitant money on landscaping. Teachers need to work a full 8 hour day. Tenure needs to be gone. When they save on their budget they should be rewarded instead of penalized. Then money would be spent appropriately.

    It was utterly ridiculous to try to pass a referendum for repairs to the schools. Repairs come from the yearly budget. It is time to get a grip on “free spending”. The private sector can no longer support the wild spending that the democrats and unions promote in their agenda.

    Time to wake up to the reality. If you want to be socialist go live in a socialistic country. Many people from those countries come here for freedom. Do you know why? They are tired of being part of the 25% working and supporting the 75% who do not work or contribute or are part of the government.

    We are America, the land of the free! Let’s keep it that way. Sheila I support you all the way!

  8. Eric Larson says:

    And the voters have spoken!

  9. Eric Larson says:

    Im waiting for some more doom and gloom stories. There were ramping up to the recall election and now nothing.

  10. Mr.America says:

    Wow, I can see from these comments, the brainwashing has been most effective.Thank you Right wing talk radio, Koch brothers, Fake new organization McIver Institute, and other “thunk” tanks. ( Cato, Heritage, American’s for Prosperity). You better all be home schoolin’ . Y’all come back when you’re working the min. wage job with no benies.

  11. Mr.America says:

    “One has to wonder how a physically larger female justice gets put in a choke hold by a physically smaller and shorter male. ”

  12. Mr.America says:

    Former Dem say: “One has to wonder how a physically larger female justice gets put in a choke hold by a physically smaller and shorter male. ”

    Wow, poor “little” Judge Prosser, he seems quite capable of attacking, but he’s intimidated by a female member of the court? Give me a break!

    Even the right leaning Milwaukee Journal has taken note of Prosser’s loss of control of his emotions.


    “Madison – As the deeply divided state Supreme Court wrestled over whether to force one member off criminal cases last year, Justice David Prosser exploded at Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson behind closed doors, calling her a “bitch” and threatening to “destroy” her.

    The incident, revealed in interviews as well as e-mails between justices, shows fractures on the court run even deeper than what has been revealed in public sniping in recent years. Problems got so bad that justices on both sides described the court as dysfunctional, and Prosser and others suggested bringing in a third party for help, e-mails show.

    Prosser acknowledged the incident recently and said he thought it was becoming public now in an attempt to hurt him politically. Prosser faces Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the April 5 election.

    He said the outburst came after Abrahamson took steps to undermine him politically and to embarrass him and other court conservatives.

    “In the context of this, I said, ‘You are a total bitch,’ ” Prosser said.”

  13. Eric Larson says:

    Maybe if left wing radio could make money to stay in business…there might be a left wing talk station for you to listen to. At least one that doesnt need a public handout…thank you NPR!

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