Politics & Government

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Challenges to Civility

Dec 15, 2011

There are plenty of adjectives you could use to describe Wisconsin’s political climate in 2011. Perhaps passionate or volatile.

The state is known for being evenly-split politically – purple - with independents often determining elections. But partisans have been zealous, even among family and friends, according to Jeri Bonavia, executive director of WAVE - the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort.

“These days, bring up the wrong topic whether it’s unions or whether it’s carrying guns in public, and suddenly the conversation becomes heated in a way that we haven’t seen in the past,” Bonavia says.

In today’s installment of Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval, WUWM’s Marge Pitrof reports on challenges to civility.

While WUWM is spending the week exploring Wisconsin’s political climate in our series, Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval, the state elections chief came to town. Government Accountability Board Executive Director Kevin Kennedy spoke to reporters Wednesday at the Milwaukee Press Club. WUWM’s Marti Mikkelson had an opportunity to question him about this unprecedented year of recalls and new voting rules.

As our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series continues to identify winners and losers of the past year, we’ll meet the two legislators who aren’t about to let civility die in Wisconsin’s legislature. Republican Senator Dale Schultz of Richland Center and Democratic Senator Tim Cullen of Janesville formed a two-man caucus in support of bipartisanship this fall. We spoke with them in September while they were on their self-described Common Ground tour of Wisconsin.

We now continue Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval. All week, we’re exploring the impact of Wisconsin’s divisive political climate this year, mixed with a tough economy. Tuesday, we reported on some winners of the new Republican majority’s agenda, including business interests and social conservatives.

Today, we focus on entities that lost ground, the biggest – public workers. Gov. Walker’s budget required them to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, in order to ease the state deficit. The GOP went one step further in 2011, by stripping most public unions of all rights except to bargain for limited wage increases. As WUWM’s Marti Mikkelson reports, angered public workers are now part of a massive effort to recall the governor.

As part of Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval, we’re identifying winners and losers of the past year. But in the case of county government, it’s hard to tell where it falls. Chris Abele is the Milwaukee County Executive. He spoke with Mitch Teich.

Political Participation for the Win

Dec 13, 2011
Wisaflcio, Flickr

Political activism was definitely a winner in Wisconsin in 2011. We’ll talk with the directors of two policy organizations for our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series. Scot Ross is the executive director of the Madison-based progressive advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. Matt Seaholm is the state director for Americans for Prosperity - Wisconsin. They both spoke with Stephanie Lecci - you can find more of their conversation as supplemental audio below.

We now continue “Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval.” All week, we’re examining the divisive year Wisconsin has experienced politically, with perhaps economic worries at the core. Last fall, for the first time in over a decade voters put Republicans in control of state government. New Gov. Scott Walker insisted he had the formula to erase the state’s massive deficit and create jobs.

Our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series features a roundtable discussion with journalists of all political bents analyzing the past year’s political events. That panel includes: Bruce Murphy, editor of Milwaukee Magazine; Lynda Jones, editor of the Milwaukee Courier; Steve Jagler, executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee; Mark Kass editor of the Business Journal of Milwaukee and David Haynes, editorial page editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

A Historical Precedent for an Unprecedented Year?

Dec 12, 2011

We try to figure out whether a seemingly unprecedented year in Wisconsin actually does have a historical precedent. Historian John Gurda is the author of nineteen books, including The Making of Milwaukee and Cream City Chronicles. He’s also a regular Lake Effect contributor, and he spoke with Stephanie Lecci as part of our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series.

Attorney & Blogger Tracks Gov. Walker's Rise

Dec 12, 2011

Our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval coverage continues with Milwaukee attorney and conservative blogger Rick Esenberg, and his take on the meaning and the legacy of the past year.

John Gunther

Earlier this morning we talked with Scott Walker about his first year as governor.

He has been the driver of the sweeping and controversial changes in Wisconsin.

They include restricting public union rights and deeply cutting money for education.

As a result, critics are attempting to recall him, while supporters praise him for being bold.

In this segment of our series, Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval, WUWM’s Ann-Elise Henzl shares insights from people who have observed Walker become the politician he is today.

Gov. Scott Walker
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Today we begin Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval. All week, we’ll explore the intersection of Wisconsin’s volatile political and economic climates in 2011.

The central figure in the drama has been Republican Gov. Scott Walker, now approaching his first anniversary in office.

Later this morning, we'll talk with people who've observed the politician over the years.

This hour, Walker reflects on his first year as governor, and his ideological formation. He chatted with WUWM’s Ann-Elise Henzl.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Monday, we kick-off our Project Milwaukee series, “State of Upheaval.” We look back at the volatile year in Wisconsin politics, from the November 2010 election of Gov. Scott Walker to the effort now a year later, to kick him out of office. In our first segment, WUWM’s Erin Toner explores why Wisconsin became a hotbed for political unrest.

A Year in Review: Wisconsin Politics of 2011

Dec 9, 2011

From Journal Sentinel reporter Craig Gilbert to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, our montage of voices from the past 12 months previews our next special series, Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval. It starts Monday on Lake Effect and WUWM News. The series culminates with a live Lake Effect broadcast from the Pabst Theater next Friday.

Series Preview

Dec 9, 2011
Eric Thayer/Getty Images and AndyStenz.com

In the coming week, WUWM’s Newsroom reporters and Lake Effect producers will reflect on the divisive year in Wisconsin politics.

Our series, Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval will address the subject from a variety of perspectives, including why so many sweeping policy changes were enacted in 2011, how the state has changed as a result, and where Wisconsin is headed.

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