Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval

2011 will go down in Wisconsin's history as one of the most volatile years for the state's politics and economy. While facing a big state budget deficit, amid the national recession, Governor Scott Walker implemented massive spending cuts and limits to public workers' collective bargaining rights shortly after his inauguration. As Democrats attempted to delay votes, and thousands of citizens protested, Republican lawmakers approved the governor's policies.

The events sparked months of heated debate over the GOP agenda, as well as recalls of state senators and efforts to unseat the governor. Walker's supporters maintain that he is positioning Wisconsin for an economic rebound and fiscal stability. His critics insist the policies are harming the middle class, public education and the social safety net.

During December 2011, Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval explored the intersection of Wisconsin's volatile political and economic climate. WUWM News reporters and Lake Effect producers reflected on the year, examined the long-range impact of the new policies and looked into where the state may be headed.

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.

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

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.

While religion and politics have always been difficult subjects to broach in mixed company, politics has been especially troublesome. Conservative Scott Grabins and liberal Katie Songer are the founders of Reach Out Wisconsin, a Madison-based group that brings together people on both ends of the political spectrum for civil conversations about often-polarizing issues. We spoke to them as part of our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series.