In case the Scott Walker administration needed a wake-up call, at least 40,000 joyous participants rallied at Capitol Square on Saturday, November 19, 2011.
Stationed as I was on a landing in the middle of the long stairway from the Assembly side of the Capitol to State Street, the pride of concerned citizens roaring around the square sounded like a lot more than the State Dept. of Administration (yes, DOA) estimate of 25,000 - 30,000.
Pictures available after the orange graphic.
Through the week four calls on my answering machine reminded me of my commitment to volunteer as a petition signature collector at the Saturday Rally. Saturday morning I got up early enough, took care of the parrots, then decided to lie down for just a few minutes.
At 8:50 am I awoke, and hurriedly washed, dressed, and packed for the day: Into a large pocket inside my winter coat I stuffed a camera, a coin purse and a comb. In the first minutes of November 15, I had celebrated the recall holiday season by waiting in line with other volunteers at the Madison East Side Recall HQ to obtain the petitions. Friday night I'd picked up a couple of legal sized clipboard, one for the Gov. Walker petitions, and the other for the Lt. Gov. Kleefisch petitions. I grabbed the plastic bag holding these items and quickly walked my uncaffeinated self to the Majestic Theater.
The first round of volunteers were filing out of their training. Walking across the narrow theater entranceway, they handed in a small paper with their names and contact info, to be used in case there were questions about the petitions they would submit. Each volunteer took a new yellow vest, to identify them as petition signature collectors, and a name tag color coded with their place of assignment.
The small, cozy theater, remodeled to be an entertainment venue, had a stage upfront, a long sound board in back, and a bar on the left side. I knew this volunteer effort would not be ordinary when I saw coffee, bagels and cream cheese on the bar, paid for by the recall committee. We petition collectors were valued enough to receive a briefing and breakfast!
Base Camp Trainer Nick Niles projected a map of Capitol Square. Colored circles showed where we would be deployed, which corresponded to the colored border of the nametag. Niles emphasized helpfulness, friendliness and smiling. He told us from whom to get help if a person became confrontational. We were shown a picture of the petition, and told what the law required. Immediately after the presentation, instruction would be provided for people who had not been trained at one of the recall offices. We were not to sign the bottom of the petition until we brought it to one of the tables where a recall worker would check each line to be sure every notation followed the law. Impressive to see idealism and organizational skills.
I was given a purple nametag that indicated I would be near the stage at the State Street stairs. At the site, I saw this:
Earlier in the week I saw the green plastic fence around the lawn (put up by Capitol groundskeepers, I'm guessing). I am glad that the rally workers understood the need to stay off the grassy areas.
At the table where I checked in I was given a small purple tag, indicating by number and letter where I should stand. I was advised to turn in the petitions and clip boards I had brought, to be picked up later. The organizers were so concerned about doing things the right way that I was to use only the Rally clipboard and petitions, even though they looked like the papers and clipboards I already had.
Around 11:00 am The Forward Marching Band warmed up the crowd. Our hearts were warm, but the damp cold required winter clothing.
Participants from several unions paraded around the square with their banners as other people joined the march or called out from the sidewalks. The wide flat landing where I stood had few people. It was merely part of the path up the stairway to the Capitol building, or down to Capitol Square and State Street. Then, suddenly the Madison Fire Department bagpipers marched up the stairs, and the crowd closed in to applaud their heroes.
And where were the police officers? Why, marching with the protesters! New York City and other OWS sites, take notice!
Drummer Hallis Mailen briefly set up on the stair landing until the rain sprinkles started. The mother of the little boy said he is Hallis' greatest fan.
Here are the firefighters returning from the Capitol stage:
Please note this thumbs up picture of Mahlon Mitchell, President of Professional FIre Fighters of Wisconsin. I want him to be Governor some day.
Finally, it was time for me to turn in my yellow vest and have a volunteer check over each line on my petitions to make sure the signers included all the required information.
I headed down State Street to Buy Local by purchasing lunch. Just before I entered State Street, I saw these signs.
And so ends my first diary on Daily Kos. I'll be making some style changes when I have time. I am grateful to be able to share this wonderful day with you.
And oh, the "Patriotic Chore?" That's from the song "Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town," which kept going through my mind last week. In order to keep Democracy in Wisconsin and America, we have to do our chores.