“Walkerville” or Ghost town?

How many participants and tents in “Walkerville?”

"Walkerville" Day 3, noon rally at the Capitol; where is everyone?

The “tent city” established in downtown Madison (by public unions in protest of the limitation of collective bargaining) is not a City at all, but a group which has shrunken to twelve overnight campers and some 20 empty tents. Many families are bigger than that.

This is not news. Even if Madison’s City Council permitted family reunions on Madison’s Capitol Square, all of Madison and Wisconsin would not want to read about it over morning coffee. Yet Madison’s media continues their sympathetic coverage of “Walkerville,” publishing close-up shots of individual (empty) tents and describing what the last family left camping at the Capitol had for dinner last night.

I live 3 miles from Capitol Square, and my parish Church is 3 blocks away. Irritated by completely nonobjective reporting on public union issues, I’ve tracked events myself and I’ve taken some photo tours around the Capitol (photos and links below).

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"Walkerville" Day 3: row of empty tents

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Is Walkerville really similar to Hooverville?

On a typical day, there are about 20 R.E.I.-type tents with electric fans and cases of Dasani outside, 30 attendees at a noontime rally dominated by hot pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts (WHAT does Planned Parenthood and abortion have to do with teachers unions?

Hot Pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts dominate "Walkerville" rally on Day 3 (30 attendees)

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Do teachers unions officially support the abortion of their future students?).  There are typically 6 people carrying protest signs, a lone vuvuzela trumpeter, a lone plastic bucket beater, some posters showing vulgar comments, and very little else visible in downtown Madison. What IS visible resembles Yuppie Ghost Town more than it resembles Hooverville, after which unions named Walkerville.

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Hooverville, 1932, Washington DC

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It is somewhat shocking to compare teachers who have upper middle class lifestyles and benefits which dwarf those of the rest of America—shocking to compare these privileged individuals to the starving and jobless people of Hooverville during the Great Depression .

Hooverville 1932

Opposition to public unions growing

It is not surprising that support for public unions in Madison seems to have fizzled out.

"Walkerville" Day 3 noon rally :attendance fizzling

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Some are even dubbing Madison “Entitletown,” and accusing unions of clinging to benefits while the rest of the nation is forced to sacrifice.

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A noise complaint against “Walkerville” was even filed with police by the wife of Democrat

Senator Risser

minority leader Senator Fred Risser.  Apparently the Senator and his wife live a block away from the Capitol Building, and the poor lady could not take the loud drumming noise any longer.  Risser was one of the fourteen democratic senators who fled the state for Illinois in February to stall Walker’s proposed reduction of collective bargaining rights for most public employees. Risser also led the effort to impose sex education programs authored by Planned Parenthood (America’s largest abortion provider) on public school children in Wisconsin.



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Vuvuzela: lone protester using volume to get attention

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Debbie Brown, a retired state employee and Democrat writes (letter to the editor, Wisconsin State Journal) :  Walkerville a tantrum, not a helpful event: “To the demonstrators (current state employees, graduate students who may not even be from Wisconsin, and educators), you are behaving like children, throwing tantrums because you’re not getting your way.”

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Was this the drumming Mrs. Risser could not take when she called the police? Unbelievable volume this fellow achieved!

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Where have all the protesters gone?

Why has support for public unions fizzled out since the massive demonstrations in downtown Madison in February?

Some speculations:

  • People may be tired of demonstrating.  The novelty may have worn off. Reality is setting in.  Walker is the face of reason and responsibility.
  • Unions may have run out of funds to bus thousands of protesters into Madison and to cover their expenses over extended periods of time.
  • Some teachers, particularly the younger ones, may have realized that their jobs are being sacrificed to the economy so that senior union members could retain their privileges (which they call “rights”).  Union leadership has NOT been considering the welfare of ALL teachers, only that of senior teachers.
  • School is out – so teachers can no longer be paid to participate in union activities such as demonstrations.  Now they would be giving up their vacation time or their summer job incomes (Yes, many teachers DO have summer jobs, despite the median teacher salary of $71,000 per year!).
  • UW Madison is out— the semester is over, and 40,000 undergraduates are gone from Madison dormitories just a few blocks away.
  • The weather has not been kind to Walkerville – ranging from 95 degree temperatures to severe thunderstorms, flooding and soaking Walkerville and whipping away tents  during the past week.

More to come?

More demonstrations to come? Or fizzled out? Madison's Capitol looks back to normal after $8million security and restoration following February's demonstrations.

Today, with the GOP state lawmakers preparing to make another run at passing Gov. Scott Walker’s reduction of collective bargaining for public employees, it will be interesting to watch what activity the unions will be able to muster downtown.  Stay tuned, more camera tours will be posted on this website.

“Rights” or entitlement philosophy?

Few people want cutbacks or belt-tightening, including my family, which has already suffered 15% cuts here in Madison, Wisconsin.  We don’t enjoy it.

However, when the choice is 15% cuts for everyone, versus senior workers (like me and my husband) hogging tenure and privileges while the young are fired, then we welcome the cuts. The American spirit of sharing burdens and walking together through hard times must prevail.

As people start to realize that protests are organized by senior public union officials who are not poor by any definition of the word, who are clinging to their luxurious bubble lifestyle of the past, while young teachers are losing their jobs and the rest of America carries an unfair share of the burden—as people realize these things, the support for public unions shrinks, and the support for Governor Walker grows.

Vacant tents, vacant Capitol Square -- 15 min before scheduled Russ Feingold rally 6-12-11 at 5 PM.

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I have great compassion for those who don’t want to give up the privileges they previously enjoyed, and for those who don’t want to give up their dreams of a cushy retirement. I belong to that group. However, the public union officials don’t seem to realize that at this point in the economy, if they cling to their very generous slice of pie, they are depriving others of having any pie (or bread, for that matter) at all.

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For those who are unaware of the “cushiness” senior union members have carved out for themselves, or of the effects of this comfort on the rights of children, see The Impact of Collective Bargaining on Teacher’s Rights and Children’s Rights– What is Fair?

Where's everybody? Apparently, a few blocks away, at the UW Memorial Student Union Terrace.

Ducks are at Memorial Union Terrace, too.

More links and photos:

“Walkerville:”

Pre-Walkerville:  Thursday, June 2nd, Protesters disrupt budget committee meeting, several carried out.

Day 1: Saturday night, June 4th :Camp set up(You Tube), ~80 tents, 100 people

Day 2: Sunday morning: ghost town –You Tube -biker rides around the Capitol filming, finds 30 tents, few straggling demonstrators. 4 people shouting “Recall Walker”.  You Tube interviewing several participants — attendance sparse.   Badger Herald posts photos.

Day 3: Monday: Public Service Day March: 300 supporters attend, plus 2 tractors, one fire engine, megaphones, bagpipes, vuvuzela. Eggs tossed at Walkerville camp.  Isthmus slide show of March.

Day 4: Tuesday:Lunch rally attracts 30; ~20 tents, 6 demonstrators

Day 5: Wednesday: Union demonstrators dressed as zombies interrupt the Special Olympics ceremony scheduled at Capitol Square.  Severe thunderstorms threaten “Walkerville” campers.  Isthmus sets up live blogging on Walkerville. Down to 12 overnight campers.

Day 6: Wisconsin State Journal covers the campers, reporting that they “show spirit.”  CNN reports, misleadingly showing large crowds from February demonstrating.  In actual fact,  “Walkerville” houses at most two dozen people.   Public News Service discusses “tent city” without mentioning that the population is a couple dozen.

Day 9: AFL-CIO live blog with photos and schedules.

Day 10: Sunday 5PM, Russ Feingold scheduled to appear:  no crowds yet at 4:45 PM; about 20 demonstrators with one vuvuzela and one plastic bucket.

  • Capitol Square is quiet 6-12-11

    Capitol Square is quiet 6-12-11

  • No crowds here

    No crowds here

  • Capitol Square- not exactly crowded

    Capitol Square- not exactly crowded

  • First Aid at Grace Episcopal

    First Aid at Grace Episcopal

  • Police supporting public teacher unions

    Police supporting public teacher unions

  • Union headquarters?

    Union headquarters?

  • Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

    Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

  • Walkerville demonstrators sparse, Day 10

    Walkerville demonstrators sparse, Day 10

    "Walkerville" demonstrators sparse, Day 10

  • State Street uncrowded

    State Street uncrowded

    State Street uncrowded

  • Looks like Russ Feingold is posturing himself to replace Scott Walker (poster).

    Looks like Russ Feingold is posturing himself to replace Scott Walker (poster).

    Looks like Russ Feingold is posturing himself to replace Scott Walker (poster).

  • R.E.I. comfort

    R.E.I. comfort

    "R.E.I." comfort

  • Campers looking quite comfortable

    Campers looking quite comfortable

    Campers looking quite comfortable

  • Rude posters

    Rude posters

    Rude posters

  • Not much happening

    Not much happening

  • Ghost town, 15 tents

    Ghost town, 15 tents

  • Handful of protesters

    Handful of protesters

  • Lone drummer

    Lone drummer

  • Not much action

    Not much action

  • Lone vuvuzela trumpeter

    Lone vuvuzela trumpeter

  • State Street quiet

    State Street quiet

  • Not much going on at Capitol Square at lunchtime

    Not much going on at Capitol Square at lunchtime

  • R.E.I. tents

    R.E.I. tents

  • One occupant is actually there

    One occupant is actually there

  • Ghost town

    Ghost town

  • State Street

    State Street

  • One group on State Street wearing tags-- union officials?

    One group on State Street wearing tags-- union officials?

  • Not much action for police

    Not much action for police

  • No protesters in sight

    No protesters in sight

  • Noontime rally draws around 30 onlookers

    Noontime rally draws around 30 onlookers

  • Hot Pink Planned Parenthhod T-shirts dominate the rally of 30

    Hot Pink Planned Parenthhod T-shirts dominate the rally of 30

  • Planned Parenthood T-shirts close up.

    Planned Parenthood T-shirts close up.

    Are teachers really supporting the abortion of their future pupils?

  • Posters

    Posters

  • All the Yuppie comforts...

    All the Yuppie comforts...

  • Largest block of 15 (empty) tents

    Largest block of 15 (empty) tents

  • Tents closer up

    Tents closer up

  • Found one small group of protesters

    Found one small group of protesters

  • Capitol lawn has been restored

    Capitol lawn has been restored

    Restoration and security bills ~$8million

  • Buses, first aid tent

    Buses, first aid tent

  • Nobody\'s shopping

    Nobody's shopping