Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 17, 2012 3:46PM

Why Wisconsinites Recalled Walker

Rate: 24 Flag

first published on WIvoices.org

  • 1.5 tons - total weight of the paper petitions delivered by truck today
  • 16,700 - average number of people who signed every day for 60 days
  • 20,000 - number of petitions downloaded in the first 48 hours
  • 30,000 - number of grassroots volunteers circulating the petitions
  • 50,000 - number of people who signed in the first 2 days
  • 540,208 -number of signatures needed statewide to trigger election
  • 1 million + – number of signatures submitted to the GAB on 1/17/12
  • Summer – special election; Incumbent Scott Walker and challenger

Hundreds of thousands of protestors have descended on the Capitol in Madison, WI in the last year. Tens of thousands of volunteers have mobilized petition drives, meetings, and rallies in their own communities. Numerous reports in the media cite “dislike” of Gov. Walker or single issue reasons such as the collective bargaining roll back as driving factors fueling the recall. Although these reasons would be legally sufficient under Wisconsin’s constitutional right to recall, I have found public discontent to be much more multifaceted than these often used examples. After 8 months of collecting interviews and posting reports from people around the state, I have found the issues to be as diverse as the people themselves.

Concerned citizens have spoken about topics ranging from diminished access to and rising costs of health care, voting rights, environmental deregulation, child protection, competent leaders, education, farming, cronyism, women’s health/reproductive issues, campaign finance, Supreme Court impropriety, workplace environment including safety and intimidation, college tuition, election fraud, jobs, livable wages, immigrant issues, human rights, democracy, favoritism, inner city isolationism, gun control, Native American treaty rights, mass transit, corporate influence, 2-party system, unemployment, collective bargaining, corruption, deportation, poverty, incarceration, WI retirement system, access to elected leaders and Capitol building, fair taxation, equitable funding, hunting, state park system, nutrition, privatization, mining and fracking, working government, 99% issues, protecting the vulnerable, Wisconsin’s legacy, and more…

Here is a recap of some of WI Voices interviews from this past year.


lost Badgercare; livable wages; fair taxation; retirement

inner city isolationism; equitable government; competent leaders

family farmers; corporate influence; favoritism; livable wages

health care; independence; equitable gov’t

correctional officer; privatization; collective bargaining, livable wages

visibility in government; worker’s rights; democracy; access to Capitol

equal protection and rights; child protection; immigrant issues; deportation

Chris Wondra (left, with friends)

government corruption; education; transparency; democracy

Social Services; child nutrition; fair funding; protecting the vulnerable

collective bargaining; workplace environment; education; fairness

democracy; working government; voting rights

99% issues;WI legacy; transparency; education

Gov. Walker Supporters; fair taxation; corporate influence; democracy

voting rights; human rights; working government

preserving Wisconsin; protecting the vulnerable; education

WI legacy; mass transit; protecting the vulnerable; livable wage


child protective services; workplace environment; livable wage


For more stories from regular people in Wisconsin, check out WI Voices TV.

Here are two other stories from produced by grassroots upstarts:



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Thank-you OS for covering the issues in Wisconsin, when so much of the media has moved on. Thank-you OS community for being such generous readers, you have encouraged us here more than you know.

Onwards ~
I'm confident that you will eventually prevail. Congratulations to you Heidi.
Hurrah! I'm proud of you guys - proud to be a Badger! The spirit of Fighting Bob LaFollette is alive and well!
I love it when the pundits claim that something is a lost cause and what's really lost is the pundits' grasp of the reality on the ground.

Bravo Wisconsin! Good luck and get out and vote!


Hate to say democracy works.. but, maybe

I'd say Scotty's about to be "Badgered." I hope that soured HIS morning coffee!
Good job and good luck.
You guys ROCK!!! Wisconsin votes against joining the third world!

I just heard the signature count was over 1.9 million!

On Wisconsin!
Next stop, Ohio, Michigan and Florida!
This is just the beginning of something exciting that WILL sweep the nation. I am so proud to know you, even via cyberspace. Carry ON Wisconsin! You have captured the faces of Democracy in all your interviews and through all those you've featured in your pieces. Thanks so much Heidi! We will be following this closely and thinking of you! Rated...again and again!
Hey thanks for all of the comments!

There were recall parties all over the state tonight. The Irish Bars in most cities are supportive of the progressive movement, with names like Kellahers, Paddy Ryans, etc...

UPDATE: All 4 GOP senators facing recalls also had enough signatures collected to trigger those elections as well today. After the initial wave of 9 recall elections during the summer of 2011, the GOP state majority shrank from 19-14 to 17-16. If even one senator loses his recall election, that split will switch sides.

JSonline had this to say:
"For the Senate recalls, the numbers of valid signatures needed vary between 14,958 and 16,742 for each district. For Fitzgerald, a group filed 20,600 signatures. State Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate said volunteers had gathered even more signatures for other senators - over 21,000 for Pam Galloway of Wausau, over 21,000 for Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls and over 24,000 for Van Wanggaard of Racine."
Remember me from Kenosha? You are an excellent unbending voice for this state. The only person I know with such strong values as this is Dana-Bird Hardaway. Also Dana Schweers Hardaway. You canfind her here on Salon and on Facebook and that girl has the government pounding on her front door with liberals parading in the back. I don't know how you women do it.
It's amazing to see the spirit of dedication and commitment in the people of Wisconsin. The people you show know that their rights cannot be taken for granted, and that only through vigilance and hard work can we protect our freedoms. Thank you for being a chronicler of this historic movement. Everyone on Open Salon is looking forward to the successful conclusion of your efforts.
Thank you! You give me hope. With all my heart I wish Wiscosinites would stand strong against the millions of dollars the evil side is going to pour into the coming election. Good luck and thank you. R
The people have spoken. The latest number I heard was 1.9 million signatures, roughly the same number of people who voted for him.
Teachers in Wisconsin still have great benefits, even after the elimination of collective bargaining. They get a pension, guaranteed income, from the day they retire to the day they die. They can still retire in their 50s. They still have excellent health insurance with low deductibles and copays and can use banked sick time to pay for health insurance in retirement. The only difference is now they have to pay 5.6% for their pension and 12% of health insurance premiums. If they choose to, they can save some money on union dues since they're no longer compelled to be a member and have the money deducted from their paycheck. Or they can remain members. It's up to them now.

This story is simply another example of the greed of public employees. For more concrete evidence of their greed, take a look at the following wages and benefits for the 9 months of work Wisconsin teachers provide.

Milwaukee $86,297
Elmbrook $91,065
Germantown $83,818
Hartland Arrwhd $90,285
Men Falls $81,099
West Bend $82,153
Waukesha $92,902
Sussex $82,956
Mequon $95,297
Kettle Mor $87,676
Muskego $91,341
Bravo and thank you for highlighting numerous reasons why he's being recalled. You're making history and have so much to be proud of.
Congratulations, Heidi, on all your hard work. I am sure you have made a difference. Rated.
Heidi, when I attended a rally in support of Wisconsin and the working class here in Sacramento early last year, my concern was that the fight would diminish and that the recall of Scott Walker might never happen.

I am THRILLED that the fight goes on and that SCOTT WALKER WILL BE RECALLED!

I remember when former California Gov. Gray Davis was recalled in 2003 by the right wing with no just cause. So it's GREAT to see a bad, right-wing governor being recalled WITH just cause!
P.S. to baltimore aureole: You're not a Californian, are you? The crooked, George W. Bush- and Arnold "Baby Daddy" Schwarzenegger-linked, Texas-based corporation Enron bilked Californians out of billions of dollars in bogus electricity charges and the Repugnicans blamed Gray Davis for it. While Davis is not charismatic, the mess wasn't his fault.

The Repugnicans saw a shot at running Hollywood action star Schwarzenegger in a do-over election and thus they initiated the recall of Davis. California's constitution does not require proof of any wrongdoing for an elected official to be recalled -- only enough signatures.

I lived through this bit of California history, so it's annoying to read someone get it so wrong.
I 'live in Chicagoland but spent a wonderful weekend at the Wisconsin Statehouse at the height of the occupation. Bravo!
Nice post. I didn't make it to the celebration yesterday. Allergies, beginnings of a cold. I'm spreading it around that Walker should resign to save the state money. He of course won't, but it's a good way of appyling pressure. From here on out it will be hard work, but great fun. The 1,000,000 signatures give the effort great momentum. And, as I love to say, constant, unrelenting prssure is what will bring the best result. The "Republicans" go crazy when they are pressured.
What Robert Crook said about the Recall of Gray Davis in California. Man had all the charisma of a dead fish, but he hadn't been in office long enough to do anything so wrong as to deserve the recall. Enron was NOT his doing.

My theory was that the Repubs were sore about losing the Governor's chair to Davis, so they manufactured a crisis to get rid of him. In Wisconsin, Walker jumped in with both feet and started pissing off his whole state barely a month into his term. All he needs to know about why this is happening to him is right in Heidi's post, above.
Were the signees required to prove they were Wisconsin residents, or is part of the sentiment the idea that it is insulting to ask people for proof of residency? How were they collected? How is the legitimacy of each signature going to be verified?
Sorry. I have little faith in the integrity of this "act of democracy."
Heide - I am curious to knw if how you feel JF's salary figures are correct as well as his statements about union choice. I would like to here enough voices to to determine the facts.

I know teachers in Austin / TX do not make that kind of money.
♥╚═══╝╚╝╚╝╚═══╩═══╝─╚ For sharing this moment in history with us.
Diane ~ great to hear from you!

Lefty ~ how are your efforts going out West? Keep me in the loop ~

Thoth ~ thanks for coming by so often, it is so appreciated ~

Margaret ~ I heard that # too, and was shocked. However, I think that some of those figures are for the other recalls of GOP senators that are occurring at the same time. There will be 6 special elections this summer: Walker, his Lt. Governor, and also 4 GOP senators that support him. It gets very confusing…this democracy thing…

JF – willful ignorance, coupled with the drive to misinform the public, was one of the factors leading me to collect first hand accounts from people on the ground here. The numbers you include are intentionally misleading and you did not cite your source. My guess is that the figures you used included the VALUE of health insurance/pension/retirement which does not pay the bills. It is as if someone added the value of your car and home to your yearly salary. Shameful distraction.

Razzle, Jonathan, Erika ~ thanks so much for reading and coming by, it really encourages us.

Robert ~ thank-you for your comment and also for correcting the misinformation of other commenters on this thread. The only way to combat their propaganda is with regular stories (which they never listen to) but other people see them for what they really are. I actually feel embarrassed for them.

Bob – Yah! Our trusted neighbors ~ in Chicago, you live closer to Madison than I do ~ take advantage!

John ~ we went to an Irish bar and celebrated w/ local “agitators”. It was a blast. That cold IS going around…we’ve got it too. Keep me in the loop w/ Mad Town stuff…

Shiral – I’m going to have to do research on that election, now that we are facing one here…good info and ALWAYS good to hear from you my friend ~

joseph S – I included a link to WI Recall election rules in the post. Here it is again for easy finding:

The Gov’t Accountability Board scans in all 3000 pounds worth of paper and cross checks names/addresses….etc. the process is detailed and proven to be reliable. In addition, 5000 + GOP supporters has volunteered to help verify petitions, so they will be studied meticulously by everyone.
Joseph Cole – Your instinct were correct, not to trust JF’s incorrect information. It is obviously propaganda and I feel quite embarrassed for him, he can’t be trusted. I’ll provide a link to the facts, for you to verify for youself:


Check out the link above to read that Milwaukee has $56,095 as the average salary. As you can see, JF’s numbers were $30,000 off.

In addition, A University of Illinois expert in employment relations and labor economics, Craig A. Olson, conducted a study in early 2011 that found:

“from 1995-2009, the average private-sector college graduate saw his/her weekly earnings increase by 10 percent after accounting for inflation. In contrast, from 1995 to 2010 the average teacher in Wisconsin saw his/her salary (without fringe benefits) decline by 10 percent after accounting for inflation”
. . .
“In 1995 the average college educated private sector worker in the U.S. earned 17 percent more than a Wisconsin teacher and in 2009 this gap had increased to 36 percent.”
Algis ~ How did you do that font in the comments! That made my day! I am so behind in technology…thanks for taking the time to do that, loved it so much…

I agree, health benefits “don’t pay the bills”. Would you rather the taxpayers pay the bills so that teacher can pay out of pocket for their healthcare? I didn’t think so.

Look, the teachers asked for gold plated benefits and now you want to act like those benefits don’t cost taxpayers a healthy sum. The way I look at, it the only person being intentionally misleading or distributing propaganda is you for attempting to discredit the inconvenient truths about teacher compensation and benefits.
I just posted the LIVE WEBCAM enabling anyone to watch the workers verifying the one million signatures of the Walker recall :

Heidi - thanks for responding. I know I am no ones best friend here, but I wanted the facts.

I looked at he spreadsheet as well a the search feature.
I must say the numbers are higher than I expected.

The average average pay teacher is making 50K. The average high pay is 63K. The average fringe is 25K.
I assume this does not include summer. How long is summer school and how much extra does it pay?

I have to say I am surprised. If fringe is retirement and health care it seems high. Almost 50% of salary for fringe.

My employer pays 5% of salary into a cash balance retirement. Not a lifetime pension. Add 3% for matching in 401K and that is 8%. It is not possible that heath care and life insurance can cost my employer 42% of my salary. What esle if anything in in fringe?

A couple more questions?
What does is the "Full time equivalency" mean?
What are the basic details of the retirement pay calculation?
Can teachers retire at 30 years and/or 55 years old?
Do teachers pay into and/or get SS or is there different plan?

I don't find the numbers shockingly low at all. Except the low 30K numbers I assume are new teachers or maybe part time.

I have to say. I expect teacher to be paid decently because they teach our kids. I also expect good teachers. If these same numbers apply to some other public jobs I would not be too happy.

Also the highest paid administrator is taking home 265K + 77K fringe. I find this difficult to justify.
I know many of the issues people mentioned are not Scott Walker imposed and have been around for quite awhile, or have been taking form for years. So what I am hearing is that one year after every governor election, we should do a recall vote. If a majority of petition signers really knew why they were signing, would they ? And how long do petition signers think it will take to recover the low estimate of 9 million dollars to run the recall election ? Or, in better terms, maybe over 9 million dollars of wages will have to be cut or jobs cut because of the misinformation from hot-heads that only care about what happens to them. If Scott Walker's actions did not effect them directly, then they would not care one bit.
Health Care in Wisconsin is not a product of just Scott Walker, but our current president of the U.S. I don't see anyone wanting to impeach him ?
If you want affordable health care then help stop health care fraud that totals more than 60 billion in a year.
I don't know why everyone thinks Koch had much to do with Walker's election or that Walker made some kind of deal ? Koch only contributed .39 % of his election. Walker didn't even need the money. go to http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?c=116585 and check it out yourself.