Over the past week, our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series has explored what the impact of the past year’s contentious political happenings has had on Wisconsin. We’ve identified winners and losers of the political fight and explored what lies ahead for the Badger State.
But we have to wonder, did it all matter? So what, that the debates on collective bargaining, the role of unions, and the size of government made Wisconsin a national lightning rod? Would these conversations have happened eventually? What would Wisconsin look like if none of this had happened?
We get two very different takes on where Wisconsin was heading before 2011, and where it’s going now. Jack Norman is the Research Director at the Institute for Wisconsin's Future; George Lightbourn is President of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. They spoke with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich as part of our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series.
The Center for Media and Democracy in Madison says the group ALEC has too much secretive influence on legislation. Mary Bottari is the Director of the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy’s Real Economy Project and BanksterUSA. She has also served as a Senior Analyst in Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division. She spoke to us from Madison as part of our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series. There’s a link to the group’s ALEC Exposed report here.
How has Wisconsin’s business climate fared in 2011? Mark Erhmann is an attorney with Quarles & Brady, LLP in Madison, and the Chairman of the Board of Forward Wisconsin, a non-profit organization created in 1984 to foster economic development in Wisconsin.
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.
In taking office, Scott Walker declared that the state is now open for business. But it’s a mixed bag for business - employment is stagnant at best, and though unemployment has fallen slightly of late, the number of jobs here has declined significantly. We talk with Paul Jadin, the President and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the unit that largely replaced the state’s Department of Commerce this year.
This past year saw a major reorganization for the Wisconsin Arts Board – which lost its agency level status and was absorbed within the state’s Department of Tourism. George Tzugros is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Arts Board. Tzugros spoke with Bonnie North as part of our Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval series.
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.