Speakers at Democracy Convention

We are excited to provide the following list of confirmed speakers, session leaders, and artists at the 2011 Democracy Convention. This listing will be expanded and otherwise updated in advance of the convention:

WSJ: Walker refuses to cancel 2011 State of the State despite blizzard

January 31, 2011
Patricia Simms

A long, heavy snowfall — actually a pair of storms — coupled with fierce winds is promising southern Wisconsin its first real blizzard of 2011 and Dane County as much as 14 inches of snow by Wednesday night.

Wisconsin Emergency Management officials have issued warnings to stay home, stay off the roads and hang tough, especially in the southeast corner of the state, beginning this afternoon.

The National Weather Service on Monday said this could be a historic blizzard capable of paralyzing parts of southeast Wisconsin with blowing and drifting conditions and poor visibility, followed by bitter cold.

CAP TIMES: Walker is acting not as governor, but as dictator

February 13, 2011
Cap Times Editorial Board


The responses to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to undermine the ability of working Wisconsinites to bargain for fair wages and benefits have been appropriately passionate.

Wisconsinites are angry with their governor, who promised to work across lines of partisanship and ideology to create jobs, but has instead chosen to play political games.

WSJ: Over ten thousand join in second day of protests against Walker's "budget repair" bill

February 15, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren

Tuesday was far from a typical day at the Capitol.

Public hearings don't usually lead to blocked access to lawmakers' offices, or to restricted stairwells that are only accessible to lawmakers and the media.

Four big-screen TVs have never before been set up so members of the public who can't fit inside the hearing room can watch the proceedings, while thousands of people chant "Kill this bill, kill this bill," a cheer that has become the slogan of a movement.

WSJ: Madison area high school students walk out of class in solidarity with workers

February 15, 2011
Matthew DeFour


Nearly 800 Madison East High School students walked out of school Tuesday morning to join a demonstration against Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill at the Capitol.

CAP TIMES: LFB report shows that Walker turned a budget surplus into a deficit during his first month in office

February 16, 2011
Cap Times Editorial Board

Wisconsin needs to be fiscally responsible.

There is no question that these are tough times, and they may require tough choices.

But Gov. Scott Walker is not making tough choices. He is making political choices, and they are designed not to balance budgets but to improve his political position and that of his party.

It is for this reason that the governor claims Wisconsin is in such deep financial trouble that Wisconsinites should view this as a crisis moment.


More Info: 

To read the LFB's memo referenced in this article see the attached PDF

For info about the manufactured crisis in the next biennium see:

WSJ: Third day of protests rock capitol

February 16, 2011
Craig Schreiner

Large crowds rallied on Wednesday at the square and in the rotunda shouting "Kill the bill"

NYT covers pro-union demonstrations in Wisconsin

February 16, 2011
Monica Davey and Steven Greenhouse

Madison, Wis. - As four game wardens awkwardly stood guard, protesters, scores deep, crushed into a corridor leading to the governor's office here on Wednesday, their screams echoig through the Capitol: "Come out, come out, wherever you are!

AP: Governor Walker's budget may sever UW-Madison from UW System

February 16, 2011
Dinesh Ramde

University of Wisconsin leaders have asked Gov. Scott Walker not to spin off the flagship UW-Madison campus from the rest of the system, saying the rumored move would create unnecessary competition that would hurt all the Wisconsin colleges. 

CAP TIMES: School board association expresses deep reservations about budget bill

February 16, 2011
Susan Troller

Wisconsin Association of School Boards executive director John Ashley is asking legislators to modify Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill in a letter sent to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance.

The newest letter is a pretty sharp departure from the organization's initial statement when Walker announced his plans last week.

BADGER HERALD: UW students plan walk-out to stand in solidarity with public workers

February 17, 2011
Ryan Rainey

In their most extreme display of student opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill so far, teaching assistants at the University of Wisconsin announced they will hold an off-campus “teach-out” to continue protests against the legislation.

Teaching assistants will hold their classes away from the UW campus for the event in a show of solidarity with university employees and students, a statement from the Teaching Assistants’ Association’s Madison chapter said.

JOHN NICHOLS: "As a seventh-generation Wisconsinite, I have never been prouder of my state."

February 17, 2011
John Nichols

“I have never been prouder of our movement than I am at this moment,” shouted Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt as he surveyed the crowds of union members and their supporters that surged around the state Capitol and into the streets of Madison Wednesday, literally closing the downtown as tens of thousands of Wisconsinites protested their Republican governor’s attempt to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.

Neuenfeldt is not alone.

CAP TIMES: Committee passes Walker's budget bill despite mass protests in capitol

February 17, 2011
Kristin Czubkowski

With drumming and chanting noises making their way into the state Joint Finance Committee meeting, it was nearly impossible for any committee member not to hear the thousands of protesters inside the state Capitol Wednesday. What Democrats and Republicans on the committee disagreed on, however, was whether the Republicans had actually listened to the protesters.

CAP TIMES: Chancellor Martin backs Walker's proposal to split off UW-Madison

February 17, 2011
Todd Finkelmeyer

UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin sent an e-mail Wednesday night to the UW System's Board of Regents, and to other chancellors across the system, asking them not to oppose Wisconsin's flagship university breaking away from the system.

NYT EDITORIAL BOARD: "unions should make their voices heard and push back hard"

February 17, 2011
New York Times Editorial Board

In a year when governors across the country are competing to show who’s toughest, no matter what the consequences, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin stands out as the first to bring his State Capitol to a halt.

Like many governors, he wants to cut the benefits of state workers. But he also decided a budget crisis was a good time to advance an ideological goal dear to his fellow Republicans: eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public employees.

THE NATION: "It is a time for global, nonviolent challenge to anti-democratic forces"

February 17, 2011
Katrina vanden Heuvel

A friend e-mailed me this morning, "Do you think events taking place in Wisconsin might be as important as what's happening in Cairo, if the media really got the word out? Might it be the spark to halt the Tea Party Express?" Another friend e-mailed, "It's possible that this labor strike in Wisconsin could become our Uncut." (In response to Britain's draconian public spending cuts, citizens there formed UK Uncut, a Twitter-organized movement, to protest wealthy tax evaders. If the rich paid for their fair share of taxes, the movement argues, the pressure on the state budget would diminish or disappear.)


CAP TIMES: Local firefighters join protests despite being exempted from bill

February 18, 2011
Susan Troller

One of the most emotional moments of the budget repair bill protests in Madison came Thursday night as off-duty union firefighters marched through the Capitol in full regalia.

The crowd exploded in cheering that actually drowned out the bagpipes accompanying members of Firefighters Local 311.

CAP TIMES: Dem Senators block vote on budget bill by leaving state

February 18, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren

The gambit by 14 Democratic state senators to leave the state Thursday instead of being outvoted on a hugely controversial budget bill has drawn national attention, cheers from supporters and a tongue-lashing from Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

CAP TIMES: Wisconsinites are employing “First Amendment remedies”

February 18, 2011
Cap Times Editorial Board

David Vines, a University of Wisconsin student, joined the mass protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights on Monday. The political science student marched on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He slept overnight in the Capitol to make sure that the Legislature did not approve Walker’s plan without a fight.

Why? “This is what the founders intended,” says Vines.

BADGER HERALD: Jesse Jackson addresses thousands outside Capitol

February 18, 2011
Katherine Krueger
Jesse Jackson addresses thousands outside Capitol in solidarity with unions


The famed civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed a crowd of thousands outside the Capitol Friday evening, urging the protestors to continue to fight for worker’s rights.


CNN: Ohio residents protest against anti-union bill similar to Wisconsin's

February 18, 2011
Marina Landis

A bill to limit the collective bargaining power of some public-sector workers has sparked protests in Ohio this week.

Crowds gathered Thursday in the state's capitol, demonstrating against Senate Bill 5. It also would eliminate tenure as a consideration when deciding on layoffs, require workers to pay at least 20% of their health insurance premiums and institute merit-based pay for some public sector workers.

CNN: Abe Lincoln, others, left legislative chambers to block unjust bills

February 18, 2011
Phil Gast

While in the Illinois House, Abraham Lincoln jumped out of the building in a futile bid to prevent foes from getting a quorum.

This week's bitter budget showdown in Wisconsin isn't the first time state legislators have fled a state, left a building or refused to show when votes were called.


THE GUARDIAN continues the international coverage of Wisconsin's democratic uprising

February 18, 2011
Ewen MacAskill
Wisconsin workers protest
Union members fill the courtyard and steps outside the State Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin in protest against plans to eliminate collective bargaining rights Photograph: Mark Hirsch/Getty Images

CAP TIMES: Protests remain peaceful and fesitve, not chaotic

February 19, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren

Word is circulating through the conservative press that it's a little rough right now here in Madison.

Glenn Beck is throwing around words like riot, while guys like Rush Limbaugh described the scene surrounding the Capitol — which reached 25,000 protesters Thursday and at least 45,000 Friday — as "chaos in the streets."

NYT discusses labor unrest in WI on "Room for Debate" page

February 19, 2011
Room for Debate


Wisconsin protests
Darren Hauck/Reuters Protesters at the state Capitol on Friday. View more photographs.

WSJ: Madison city council extends collective bargaining agreements

February 19, 2011
Samara Kalk Derby

Hurrying to approve contracts for Madison workers before Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget repair bill can be enacted, the City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to extend a number of the city's collective bargaining agreements to the end of 2012.

The vote received loud applause and a standing ovation from most of the 175 people in the room, many of them union employees. Ninety-four people registered in support of the actions, with one opposed.

Live blogging of Saturday's protests from the WSJ

February 19, 2011
State Journal Staff

As of 5pm.  Click on link for latest updates

4:31 p.m.:State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, says from his Chicago hotel room this afternoon that he and 13 other Democratic senators are willing to remain missing as long as Gov. Scott Walker refuses to budge on his proposal to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees.


UW-Madison student filmaker documents first three days of protests in Madison

February 19, 2011
Matt Wisniewski

Three days of footage (Feb 15-17) from the Madison, WI protest against the SB11 budget repair bill.

PAUL KRUGMAN: "what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget...It is, instead, about power."

February 20, 2011
Paul Krugman

Last week, in the face of protest demonstrations against Wisconsin’s new union-busting governor, Scott Walker — demonstrations that continued through the weekend, with huge crowds on Saturday — Representative Paul Ryan made an unintentionally apt comparison: “It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison.”

POLITCO: People from all over the world stand in solidarity with Wisconsin by ordering Ian's pizza for protesters

February 20, 2011
Meredith Shiner

MADISON, Wis. — Someone in Egypt has been paying attention to what’s happening in Madison and wanted to send a message of solidarity from across the globe — so they ordered a pizza.

Green Bay Packer speaks out in support of working families

February 20, 2011
Jilane Rodgers


Last week I was proud when many of my current and former teammates announced their support for the working families fighting for their rights in Wisconsin. Today I am honored to join with them.

JOHN NICHOLS discusses Wisconsin's democratic heritage and promotes the call for a "Wisconsin Wave"

February 20, 2011
John Nichols

On my dad’s side, my ancestors came to Wisconsin in 1823 to mine lead near Mineral Point. My mom’s people arrived a decade later, settling in Wyoming Valley.

I was raised with an outsized regard for Wisconsin, by a mother who made sure we never passed a Wisconsin historical marker without stopping.

So when I say that I have never been prouder of my state than I was last week, when workers rose up to challenge Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights, it is in that context.