Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sympathy with the devil

Please allow me to introduce myself:  I am a 41 year old husband, father of three, and cop for the past 15 years.  I am a detective by trade, SWAT officer when called upon, and recovering attorney.  For my entire adult life, I have hovered just to the left of the center line of the political debate in this country.  For the past 15 years, I have been focused on raising a family and protecting and serving my community.  I liked to consider myself well-read and somewhat politically aware.  Truth be told, I was totally politically inactive, and sat on the sidelines while our nation crumbled.

Then it happened.  On February 11, 2011, I got a call from Jim Palmer, head of our umbrella union, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.  Jim said that Governor Walker was introducing a bill that afternoon, and it was bad.  Really bad.  Unthinkably bad in the context of what had been Wisconsin's political discourse to date.  Specifically, Gov. Scott Walker and his henchmen were introducing the inappropriately-named "budget repair bill."  This bill destroyed the collective bargaining rights of most public employees in the State of Wisconsin, and also included massive giveaways for special interests who contributed to Walker's campaign.  The budget that followed this bill included devastating cuts to almost every Wisconsin institution, including $1 billion in education cuts (making Wisconsin the worst in the nation in cuts per pupil), horrific cuts to healthcare programs for poor, elderly, and women, and complete dismantling of a rich history of natural resource protection.

Funny thing about the union-busting provisions of the Budget Repair Bill:  it exempted police and fire unions in the state.  We can only speculate as to the reasons for this.  Perhaps it was political payback for the small number of police and fire unions that actually endorsed him (a small minority of these unions).  Perhaps Walker was worried about civil unrest, and wanted to make sure there were cops and firefighters there to clean up his mess.  Maybe it was just his attempt to divide the house of labor.  Whatever the reason, it backfired on him, and we came out early, loud, and hard against this legislation.  Out of this struggle the Cops for Labor movement was born.

This blog will tell some of the stories of the Wisconsin protests.  I had a front-row seat for a lot of it.  We marched for 30 days straight, and I became one of the voices for the Cops for Labor movement.  As such, I had some remarkable experiences.  I was in the room when the Republicans killed collective bargaining in the dead of night.  I was one of 20 Democratic guests to watch Walker's budget address.  I testified before the Joint Finance Committee of the Wisconsin Legislature, and appeared on national television to talk about the police/protester relationship as that relationship disintegrated across the nation in later occupy movements.

I will also use this blog to talk about the dismal state of our Republic, and to try to enlist your help in fixing it.  We are in dire straits in this nation.  Simply put, we have a government that is bought and paid for by a shockingly small number of people and corporations, and as a result most of our lawmakers no longer represent the best interests of their citizens or their nation.  I had to bear witness to this "up close and personal" before I truly understood it.  Suffice it to say, it has opened a door in my soul which I cannot close.

This blog is as much catharsis for me as it is anything else.  There are some days I feel utterly compelled to write.  I hope you enjoy the posts and take something away from them.  If not, please go and do something else, because life is too short to waste your time on something that has no value for you.

Lastly, please get in the game.  Get involved. Get educated.  We are in real trouble in this nation, and America will soon be unrecognizable if we don't fight for the future of our children.



  1. I am looking forward to your blog! You are one of the smartest and most insightful (is that a real word?) people I know, and it is sure to be worth reading and sharing. Thank you! Rosalita