Archive for December, 2011

by Hannah Kazmarek

Staff Writer

Alex Buratti, an Edgewood junior, tore up a Recall Walker petition just outside of Phil’s Diner, causing controversy on campus and in local media.

On the first day students had Walker Recall petition tables on campus, Buratti walked up to the designated table outside of Phil’s and inquired how to sign. As volunteer Mary Platt began to give instructions, he tore up a page of the petition and walked away.

Zach Madden, president of Edgewood Democrats, who was present, first called the other table with petitions in Wingra, afraid Buratti would attempt the same there. He then contacted campus security, who responded promptly. Security’s report was finalized and “on Dean of Students Maggie Balistreri-Clarke’s desk by the next morning,” he said, “and by that time all the deans were aware of the situation.”

It only took a few weeks before news stations around Madison were also aware of the situation. The story was picked up Channel 3000 and Channel 27 who, in an initial interview with Ryan Bouchard, Associate Dean of Students, asked why the Edgewood Administration had not contacted the authorities. “Our obligation is to support the student who was impacted,” Bouchard said in an interview. The news report criticized the school for not reporting the incident, and after the college administration’s prolonged failure to do so, Madden made the call himself. Madden told 27 News that he didn’t “think justice was served here.”

Buratti is feeling the pressure. He describes the last few weeks as being “surreal.”

“It was spontaneous. When I did it, I just thought ‘oh I just ripped up a blank sheet of paper,’ like it wasn’t a big deal. Now I feel like, ‘wow that was dumb.’” Buratti claims he didn’t know exactly what he had torn up. Buratti, a business marketing major from DePere, says he became aware of the severity of the situation when his roommate came home and said “You’re a criminal now.”

Two days later he woke up and found a toilet on his front lawn littered with toilet paper and Recall Walker signs. “And there was a stake with a picture of my face on it.” He said the eight other people he lives with were not happy about the situation. His picture also appeared in Wingra, with the text ‘Don’t let this guy sign your petition. He’ll tear it up – that’s a felony.’

Although he doesn’t support the governor, Buratti doesn’t agree that Walker should be recalled. “I thought that the whole thing has gotten out of hand in Madison, and people are everywhere, and now they’re on campus here. The whole thing was kind of overwhelming, so I just got the urge to go over there,” he said about what drove him to tear the petition.

His tweet to the governor, which read “I just tore up a petition for you,” was similarly un-thought out. “I guess I just found out what it was I had torn, but I didn’t know the magnitude of the whole situation. I just felt like it would be funny? – I don’t know. I regret doing that too.” Harassing tweets soon followed. “I guess I deserved it, but I had to delete my account because there were so many people tweeting at me.” The governor’s office hasn’t responded to the tweet. Other reactions varied. Buratti said “Some people were like congratulating me on it. They were shaking my hand and stuff. And a lot of people just thought it was funny.”

As for hierarchical repercussions, Buratti has met with Ryan Bouchard and has been put on probation by the administration until June 2012. “If I break any more rules on campus, then I’ll either get suspended or expelled.” They also made him write a letter of apology to Madden, completing Edgewood’s punishment for him. “The administration said they weren’t going to get the police involved,” he said, “but some other people reported me.” He now has an interview with a police officer, which Buratti says he’s anxious about. “Hopefully I don’t get a large fine, or have to go to jail.”

“Any defacing of a petition is a Class I felony,” Madden said. “A Class I felony is a maximum of three years in jail, and a ten thousand dollar fine.” The severity of felonies is rated from A to I, he explained, with I being the lowest. “It is the lowest felony possible, it’s not a misdemeanor, it’s a very serious charge,” said Madden. The petition Buratti had torn contained one other signature, but the volunteers, Madden said, were “pretty positive the person whose signature was torn had witnessed the incident after just signing and re-signed on another sheet.”

“I guess I just want people to know that I’m sorry, it was a mistake, and I regret it,” Buratti said, “That’s all there is to it.”