Photo a Day Challenge

Wisconsin State Capitol

Passion

Rubbing the nose of the badger that dwells outside our governor’s office in the Capital is said to bring good luck.  That poor badger’s nose has been almost rubbed off this year in the wake of  Wisconsinites’ passion to recapture political integrity there.  That passion is also being expressed as petitions for the governor’s recall numbered over 300,000 in the first twelve days of canvasing, and numbered 500,000 at last count.  540,208 signatures are required to force the recall election.  700,000 signatures is the ultimate goal.

 


Surfaces

The image of our State Capital can be reflected by surfaces other than  those offered by the bank across the street. New “tools” (to use the Governor’s term) manufactured by executives and their funds are not always needed to initiate  complete “makeovers” as shown on TV.

Through tenacity and diligence Wisconsin’s competent workers have already accumulated the “tools” necessary for required maintenance of our building:  A two party political system, established rights, free access to information, a free and unlimited public dialogue in which the ideas of others are actually considered, an ability to compromise, and a fair ballot box. And, in the far corner of the toolbox:  A recall procedure.

Like the building itself, the old “tools” are priceless.  Now their protection also requires a tenacious, diligent and involved electorate.


Precious

The Wisconsin State Constitution.

Precious: An object of great value;  not to be wasted or treated carelessly.

This is what the Republican law would eliminate:

State Statutes, Subchapter V, State Employment Labor Relations:  111.80, Declaration of Policy, (3)

“. . . negotiations of terms and conditions of state employment should result from voluntary agreement between the state and its agents as employer, and its employees.  For that purpose an employee may, if the employee desires, associate with others in organizing and in bargaining collectively through representatives of the employee’s own choosing. . .”

Our rights were neither quickly nor easily gained, be they religious, civil, gender, voting or workers’.  When contemplating the stripping of someone’s rights, we are reminded of an old adage:  “Be careful of what you wish for . . . you may get it.”


Center of Interest

The east wing of the second floor houses the Supreme Court Room.  Murals on the walls depict historical events that influenced Wisconsin law:  Ceasar Agustus presiding over a trial, the protested signing of the Magna Carta, the signing of our US Constitution  in Philadelphia and the trial of Chief Oshkosh of the Menominee tribe in 1830.

The current collective bargaining bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor has made the Judicial branch the center of interest.  On March 18 Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order preventing publication of the controversial law as the initial result of a lawsuit alleging its passage violated the state’s open meetings law. A law does not take effect until the day after its publication in the Wisconsin State Journal.

State Attorney General Van Holland filed an appeal shortly after the ruling.  Yesterday the Republicans attempted to circumvent Judge Sumi’s court order by publishing the bill on the Legislature’s web site and contending it becomes law today despite the court order.  A Supreme Court hearing seems inevitable.

The Supreme Court is an appeals court and its seven justices hear arguments presented by two attorneys and employs neither witnesses nor jury.  The justices  are elected to ten year terms and are up for election one at a time each year.


Doors

We entered these black, beautifully filigreed doors In the east wing of the second floor to access the Supreme Court Room.  This is the view from inside the room looking out through the one open interior door.


In Our House

The State Assembly is Wisconsin’s version of the House of Representatives.  It is located in the west wing on the second floor.  Speaker of the Assembly Jeff Fitzgerald, brother of Senate Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, presides at the large desk below the front mural.  It consists of ninety nine members, all of whom are up for election every two years. The Assembly mirrors the functions described under the Senate photo.

Although we were aware of the large number of representatives,  we were unexpectedly struck by the vastness of the room.  It boasted the world’s first electric voting machine in 1917, installed to deal with the time required for the ninety-nine members to register their votes.  The current electronic system was installed in 1999 and provides live access to votes cast, via the Legislature’s internet web site.  A third floor gallery provides access for the general public and adds to the impression of vastness.

The mural above the Speaker’s desk was painted by Edwin Blashfield and depicts the past, present and future of Wisconsin.  The eagle perched center directly below the mural is a replica of Old Abe, a Civil War mascot to the 8th Infantry Regiment from Eau Claire, WI.


Bold

In a bold move fourteen Democrat senators fled these doors to prevent quick passage of a controversial bill, thereby buying time for all to see what it contained. In a bold move of their own, nineteen Republican senators closed these doors and maneuvered to pass the bill without the Democrats.  When we located the Senate in the south wing of the second floor. the doors were locked.  We were not allowed admittance.

Thirty-three senators are elected to serve four year terms.  Currently Republicans enjoy a majority of nineteen to fourteen with Senator Scott Fitzgerald Majority Leader.   Sixteen members will be up for reelection next year during the 2012 presidential election and the other seventeen during the 2015 gubernatorial election.

The Senate introduces bills, studies them, debates them, and votes on them.  Passed bills are then sent to the Assembly for consideration.  Amendments or changes must be approved by both houses.  When the same version of the bill is passed by both houses, the Governor may or may not sign it into law.


Curves

The interior was not designed exclusively in curves. It was not designed exclusively in straight lines. The Capital appears to have been designed as an artistic juxtaposition of both. Both exist in harmony and both contribute to the beauty of the design. The concept is noteworthy and should be applied to our two political parties whom Wisconsinites trust to be its caretakers.

This design concept is complimented with forty-three stone varieties from around the world, solid wood panels, gold leaf, historic paintings,  gorgeous glass mosaics and hand carved furniture, all of which reflect Wisconsin’s ethnic diversity.


Simple

Struck by the view of these straight, simple yet decorated zigzag lines, we chose one of these nonetheless beautiful staircases located in the recesses of the Capital to ascend the second floor rather than one of the more grandiose central staircases.


Thriving

Lois examines a Hugo Ballin painting in the Governor’s Conference Room located in the east wing off the Rotunda.  The room is thriving and “open for business,”  to use the governor’s phrase, as evidenced by the governor’s recent whirlwind activity.

The room is fashioned in the style of the Venetian Renaissance and is adorned with 22-karet gold leaf.   Ballin’s twenty-six historical and allegorical paintings beautifully decorate the cherry wood panels as well as the ceiling.  The fireplace is crafted from hand carved Italian marble. The floor is Wisconsin hardwood. Elegant  engraved place cards adorn the French walnut table awaiting the impending arrival of  attendees. This is indeed a room befitting the office of Governor of Wisconsin.


Retro

Also watching silently in the Rotunda is this replica of the Liberty Bell.  Congress gave one to each of the states in 1950.  Ours has no choice but to be silent because its ringer was stolen years ago as a college class prank.  Perhaps it is time to give it a new voice, too.


Faces

Under the watchful eye of both Fighting Bob and the state troopers, a group of protesters rallies peacefully and sing songs of freedom, unity and defiance.  The old Rotunda amplified their resounding voices even better than a vintage Fender!


In the Distance

In the distance a pair of troopers keeps a watchful eye as the bust of Fighting Bob La Follette (1855 – 1925),  U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative and  20th Governor of WI,  watches over a group of protesters in the first floor Rotunda.  Appropriately, Fighting Bob is remembered for his campaign against a growing dominance of corporations over government and for his support of labor unions.  Also appropriately, current Secretary of State Doug La Follette refused to rush the controversial anti union law into publication stating,  “These are tough times.  I’ve never seen the state so divided, and so hateful of each other.  And I just hope people can calm down, and do what’s best for the state in the long run.”


Entrance

Entrance to the Wisconsin State Capital was limited to two entrances and required walking a gauntlet through a sinister looking metal detection portal followed by state troopers wielding metal detection wands.  Although the troopers were courteous,  the process was nonetheless intimidating.  Incidentally,  the troopers are exempted from the anti union law and are headed by Steven Fitzgerald, whose sons are Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.  The senior Fitzgeald was recently appointed to his position by Governor Walker.


Reflect

The image of the Wisconsin State Capital in Madison reflects on the glass bank from across the street. Yesterday we visited the site of our state’s largest protests in history . . . 100,000 plus protesters on the previous Saturday alone.  The bill stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights is now law.  Now we feel the need to reflect on the current image of our beloved capital.