Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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.”

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Tony Lattis

Edgewood’s Jay Hatheway, chair of the History Department, spoke on campus about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy concerning gay service members in the military, highlighting an issue that has become more relevant over the past few weeks.

A district court ruling in California late last month, state “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a violation of the constitutional rights of service members and ordered the military to cease enforcing the 17 year-old regulation that goes back to the Clinton administration.  According the Hatheway, this is the first successful ruling against “don’t ask, don’t tell” since the ban on gays in the military was officially enacted in 1943.

This is an issue that hits close to home for Hatheway, who was himself court marshaled and dismissed from the service in 1975.  He fought back along with another serviceman in what was the first constitutional challenge to the long-standing ban on gays in the military. (more…)

Madison Voting on Medical Marijuana

Posted: October 29, 2010 in Politics

Michael Stock

On November 2, all Dane County mid-term election ballots will include the following referendum: “Should the Wisconsin Legislature enact legislation allowing residents with debilitating medical conditions to acquire and possess marijuana for medical purposes if supported by their physician?”

Supporters of the medical marijuana bill gathered downtown for Harvest Fest the first weekend of October.  The annual event includes music and speeches and culminates in a march up State Street from Library Mall to the state capitol.

Students from all of Madison’s campuses as well as from out of town were represented at the event.  Edgewood sophomore Kayla Stetzel, who witnessed the parade, said, “If it helps people with medical conditions, I don’t see why not.”

Asked about the referendum, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin said, “We still see arrests and prosecutions when I think there are so many other higher priorities.  Even if you just limit the discussion to drugs, there are certainly drugs that are very highly addictive and have no similar benefits that medical marijuana does in alleviating suffering, pain, and nausea.”

Supporters of the bill march up State Street

Groups Push Peers to the Polls

Posted: October 23, 2010 in Politics

Lisa Kaminski

With mid-term elections quickly approaching, Edgewood’s political student organizations are preparing to get people to the polls.

With less than two weeks until Election Day, the Edgewood College Democrats are working to get students to vote.

“There’s an enthusiasm gap right now,” said Nicki Ley, treasurer for the organization.  With this in mind, the group has been working to get  students registered and to the polls.  In the coming days, the College Democrats will be in the Wingra Commons to provide information on how to register and offering to send reminders to vote.  The group also worked with Beth John, Director of Student Activities, to have shuttles run resident students to the polls on November 2.

The Edgewood College Republicans also want to see a strong student presence come Election Day, but due to poor member turnout and busy schedules, they have failed to make any substantial plans to get others involved.  Despite the organization’s lack of formal activity, president Brittany Remmington believes that voting “is important for people our age.  These are the people that are going to be in charge when we graduate.”

Although these students organizations tend to be most active during major elections, bot plan on staying busy after votes are cast.  “We want to keep the momentum going,” Ley said.

So what is your story, when did you know you wanted to do what you do?

The earliest I can trace my interest in public service to is middle school, believe it or not. The “A-ha!” moment wasn’t running or winning the student council race, but it was some of the work I was involved with once I was elected. It was just that light-bulb moment for me that a small group of people could make a difference in others’ lives. Our school had a sister school in Nicaragua. There was a huge earthquake and the school there was heavily damaged, so we raised pennies, nickels quarters and dimes, and got letters back from those children thanking us, saying they were able to buy books. So here we were, pre-teens in Wisconsin, making a difference halfway across the world.

There was also an issue that brought me to public service, which is my belief that everyone should have comprehensive healthcare coverage that’s affordable. When I was nine years old I had a very serious childhood illness and was hospitalized for a long time. I know that my grandparents who raised me weren’t able to get insurance coverage for me after that. I just thought that shouldn’t happen to families, having to pay out of pocket and not being able to get insurance. It became a life-long goal.

How have you seen Madison change culturally and politically since you grew up here? How do you see it continuing to change, it what direction?

I remember Hildale being the periphery of the city, and when they opened West Town you had to travel through farm fields to get there. Watching the city grow has been interesting. The economy has become a lot more diverse, which is great because it has really helped a city like Madison weather the recession better than some communities where they’re really dependent on one sector of the economy; in particular, manufacturing towns like Milwaukee, Janesville and Beloit.

My mother was an undergrad here when I was born, and she was really involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement. I remember as a child all the demonstrations on campus, not violent ones, but students saying, “If we unify our voices we can really make a difference”, just by sit-ins, teach-ins, marches, etc. I think that really did make a difference. I think that has remained a tradition here, but has been strong or weak at various points in time. Obviously there are many campuses in the area and lots of opportunities for young people to engage both on campus and their larger community. (more…)

Michael Stock

The Obama Rally in Madison on Tuesday, September 28th, succeeded in sending one message: “vote during the mid-term elections.” Not a half-bad idea. Vote! Be a part of this experiment in democracy! If the lunatic, extremist fringes of the Republican Party take over congress, it won’t be because the sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-working-class, scientifically inaccurate balderdash they spew on a day-to-day basis appeals to the majority of Americans. It would be a sign of voter apathy.

And you don’t even need to vote for a Democrat. Vote for one of the intelligent, not bigoted,fiscally conservative Republicans. Vote for the Green Party—they seem to be, consistently, the lesser of the evils that comprise our partisan system. But keep in mind, that though a couple Greens might get into congress, there will likely never be a Green Party U.S. presidency (Cynthia McKinney was robbed of any reasonable media coverage in 2008). Or, if you’re still disillusioned, read some Trotsky or some Kate Richards O’Hare. (more…)

Obama Rally Coverage

Posted: October 1, 2010 in Politics

-The Secret Service confused us with what they referred to as the “renegade press.” The day was long, but overall moderately successful.

Lisa and Michael at the Press Check-In