Monday, March 07, 2011

Sue & Mitch: manure salespesons of the year

A tweet by any other name would smell as ripe:

manure salespersons

The number, of course, came from a Department of Administration flak in the Walker administration. The truth, naturally, is different:

My office is one block from Capitol Square in Madison so I’ve spent several lunch hours among the crowds inside and outside the building. For over two weeks tens of thousands of demonstrators concerned about changes to collective bargaining arrangements proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have marched around, passed through and occupied the building 24 hours a day, setting up an indoor community complete with first aid and information stations, child care, sleeping quarters, a family respite wing, a speaker’s stage at the center of the rotunda, live entertainment, and a steady stream of food called in by people around the world. The number of demonstrators camped out overnight in the capitol building has ranged from over a thousand to a less than a hundred in recent days after police were ordered to restrict access. During daytime hours crowds inside the building have reached shoulder-to-shoulder capacity. On weekend days crowds on Capitol Square have reached 50-70,000. Images and video of raucous crowds drumming and chanting in the rotunda have flooded websites. On day ten of the ongoing protests Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz estimated that around 500,000 people had spent time in the building.

"Keep our house clean" sign in the capitol building.

"Keep our house clean" sign in the capitol building.

This incredibly heavy use raises concerns about the impact of such crowds on the fabric of the building itself. Last Friday night I walked through the building to see the impact thousands of protesters were having. The Wisconsin State Capitol is a typical early-twentieth-century Beaux-Arts state capitol – monumental and cavernous with a soaring rotunda and marble and granite finishes everywhere. It was designed by the New York firm of George B. Post & Sons and completed in 1917. The building is noted for its decorative program, featuring sculptural groupings in each of the four wings, and dome paintings and mosaics by nationally prominent artists. Chambers and caucus rooms feature rich furnishings and hardwood finishes and are decorated with art and antiques from two former capitol buildings on the site.  In the late 1990s and early 2000s a full restoration/rehabilitation was completed.

This is a from a post by Jason Tish, the executive director of the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation and a local field representative for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Here’s another report from a television station in Madison:

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Department of Administration now says the damage estimate at the state Capitol could be $350,000.

At a court hearing Thursday over access to the Capitol, the DOA estimated the cost to be about $7.5 million.

The DOA says that was a "high-end" estimate. They say the $350,000 would cover a crew to perform "very limited" restoration on the marble as well as landscape restoration, according to an AP report.

DOA originally said it could cost between $60,000 and $500,000 just to assess the building's condition. [emphasis added]

Protester numbers inside the Capitol have peaked at around 5,000.

The Wisconsin Department of Administration – Governor Walker’s Administration – was clearly just making it up in court. And Mitch and Sue were happy to pass it along.

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