The evening started out on great footing see how we shared the table with Zach Wisnewski of Blogging Blue (he's really a big thing, if you weren't aware) and the wise and entertaining Tom Foley of Illusory Tenant fame. I felt humbled in the presence of such greatness. Also floating around was another friend, Keith Schmidt.
This year, the dinner was held at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. The food in itself was edible, but not the sort of fair that I would write home about.
The speechifying started off with Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson. Nelson had a great line about how Scott Walker had promised local leaders the tools to address the severe cuts Walker wants to impose. Nelson said that every time he looks into Walker's tool box, all he sees is a screwdriver.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele spoke next and promised to fix what Walker had broken by actually working with the Board and the people of Milwaukee County.
U.S. Representative Gwen Moore, who was introduced as the person who beat Walker before it became popular, She said that Walker and the Republicans were hoping that we'd stay asleep while they did whatever they wanted, but we were all woken up by the Wisconsin 14. Moore then emphasized that Walker could be beaten, and that she was living proof of that, having beaten him soundly for the seat she now holds. She ended up with saying that she was jealous of an unknown person who was asked to sign the recall for Senator Lena Taylor. She said she really wanted someone to ask her to do that so she could give them what for.
The next speaker was Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who gave a fiery speech. The kind of speech I wish he gave more of during the campaign last year, so we could have been spared all of this.
Barrett said that he didn't remember Walker mentioning that he wanted to drop the bomb on the working men and women of this state. He then gave one of the more memorable lines of the evening:
What happens when you drop a bomb on someone is you either obliterate them or they survive and they come back and fight like never before. Governor Walker, we have survived and we are coming back to fight you.Barrett then promised to be with us come what may over the next several months.
They then showed a very moving video in tribute to all of the people who have spent the last two and a half months of their lives showing up at the Capitol to make their voices heard.
Representative Peter Barca was up next and was also all fired up. His key moment was when he mentioned a person who has been showing up at the Capitol marching nearly every day, with a sign that red "Wisconsin - Now making Chicago look clean for four and a half months."
Senator Miller spoke next, but half of his time was taken up telling people how important it is to donate to the cause and pointing out donation envelopes on the tables.
Finally the keynote speaker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, got up to speak. He gave a very impassioned speech, full of wonderful and worthwhile goals and statements, but during his speech, I couldn't help but feel more than a bit melancholy that Massachusetts has such a positive, people-orientated leader whose state is among the tops of the nation in health care provision and education, and we have Walker who has not created one job, but has instead turned and attacked the workers, the middle class and the vulnerable citizens of his state. Some of Patrick's comments:
- Republicans are more concerned about keeping in their jobs instead of doing them. (So true. Look at how Walker et alia have done everything they can to squash our voices and take away our rights.)
- I am the governor for ALL the people in my state.
- It's time for Democrats to get a backbone and stand up for what we believe in.
- In a time of crisis, we turn to each other, not on each other.
- Government is the name we give to the things we do together.
And for the right wingers who were so concerned, he did bring up the fact the Massachusetts legislature is trying to imitate Wisconsin. He pointed out that the wasn't going to let it happen in his state.
One of the things that I picked up during the evening was that Sheldon Wasserman has not ruled out a run for the soon to be recalled Alberta Darling's chair, but was hedging his answer by saying he expected Republicans to draw up the new district lines by cutting him out of that district. I expect Sandy Pasch to be the new senator for that district.
One of the nicest parts was getting to chat with Dominique Paul Noth, Editor and Communications Director for AFL-CIO Labor Press. The bad part is I forgot to ask if he was looking for some help...
All in all, a very good night. Thanks again to the folks at Progressives United for the invite.