Walker grills for lawmakers as helicopter circles

Jun 13, 2012, 4:54 AM

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker donned a white apron to man the grill at a bipartisan picnic that had the air of an international peace conference, with a news helicopter circling overhead, protesters yelling outside the gates and lawmakers ushered onto the grounds under tight security.

Walker didn’t allow the media into the cookout he hosted at the governor’s mansion just a week after winning a recall election spurred by anger over his push to eliminate most public employees’ union rights. He billed the bipartisan gathering as a way to heal political wounds created during his first 18 months in office, which saw massive protests and multiple recall efforts targeting lawmakers of both parties.

Some of the nearly 100 state lawmakers who attended the picnic said later that it was a good first step, but Walker needs to do more to show he’s serious about bringing the parties together.

“The question is not what happened today, but what’s going to happen tomorrow,” said state Rep. Brett Hulsey, a Madison Democrat who emerged from the two-hour picnic carrying a souvenir bottle of Sprecher root beer with a special label that said “Moving Wisconsin Forward.”

The so-called brat summit featured the local sausages whose name is pronounced “brahts,” cheese and many other Wisconsin-made products.

Earlier in the day, the president of the Illinois-based Woman’s Christian Temperance Union chided Walker for having beer on the menu. The WCTU successfully lobbied for Prohibition, which made selling alcohol illegal from about 1920 to the early 1930s, and its 5,000 members continue to spread its anti-drinking message nationwide.

President Rita Wert said the problems facing Wisconsin are serious, and policy makers shouldn’t cloud their judgment by drinking alcohol.

“That portrays kind of a party atmosphere, and I don’t think that’s what people want,” she said. “It’s just really a shame that it has to be that way.”

The group raised similar objections in 2009 when President Barack Obama invited a black scholar and the white police sergeant who arrested him to the White House to share a beer and talk about race relations.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the governor respectfully disagreed with the WCTU’s objections.

“In keeping with the bipartisan theme of the event, in this case we agree with President Obama,” Werwie said

The two dozen protesters outside the gates included those who have hounded Walker for months, along with Marty Beil, executive director of the state’s largest public employees union. Beil dismissed cookout as “nothing more than a PR gig.”

If Walker were serious, he would meet privately and more discretely with lawmakers rather than throw a cookout for hundreds, Beil said. But lawmakers were upbeat after the event.

“This is a perfect venue in summer to talk about issues right after the recall process,” said Republican Rep. Scott Suder, majority leader in the state Assembly. “I truly believe all of us can find common ground.”

Rep. Gary Hebl, a Democrat from Sun Prairie, said the cookout laid a good groundwork for future talks on more substantive issues like job creation. And Rep. Peter Barca, the Democratic minority leader in the Assembly, said Walker stepped out from behind the grill to talk with him and promised follow up discussions with all legislative leaders in the coming weeks.

“I do think it was a positive step, no question about it,” Barca said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - Actress Anne Heche poses for a portrait to promote the film, "The Last Word" during the Sund...
Associated Press

Anne Heche remains on life support for donor evaluation

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anne Heche remains on life support and under evaluation for organ donation after a car crash that led to her brain death, a representative for the actor said Friday. Under current California law, death can be determined by the loss of all brain function and in accordance with accepted medical standards. […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Family of slain Texas soldier seeking $35 million in damages

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The family of a Texas soldier who was was sexually harassed and killed at a military base near Killeen in 2020 filed a lawsuit Friday seeking $35 million in damages from the U.S. government. The family of 20-year-old Vanessa Guillen is seeking damages on the basis of sexual harassment, abuse, assault, […]
16 hours ago
This undated photo provided by Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar shows Breonna Taylor in Louisville...
Associated Press

Reports: Ex-officer to plead guilty in Breonna Taylor case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Former Louisville police Detective Kelly Goodlett intends to plead guilty to a civil rights charge stemming from the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman whose death in a botched police drug raid helped spark racial justice protests in 2020. Goodlett is set to appear Aug. 22 before a federal […]
16 hours ago
FILE - The emblem of a Mississippi Highway Patrol badge on a "cover," the hat worn by uniformed off...
Associated Press

Mississippi trooper cleared in probe of chokehold video

JACKSON, Miss (AP) — The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said Friday that its internal investigation found no criminal conduct by a white Highway Patrol trooper who used physical force against a handcuffed Black man during an arrest — a confrontation caught on video by relatives of the man being arrested. An investigation started after […]
16 hours ago
In this photo provided by Dakota Snider, a thunderstorm is seen from Highway 159 over Las Vegas on ...
Associated Press

2 dead amid ‘restless’ monsoon-season flooding in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The most “restless” summer monsoon season in a decade became deadly Thursday, as intense lightning and thunderstorms flooded parts of southern Nevada and a leaky ceiling forced table games to stop at one Las Vegas Strip casino. A man’s body was found Friday by public works crews and firefighters removing debris […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Fox News’ Kilmeade says he showed judge’s meme ‘in jest’

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade said Friday that he had aired “in jest” a doctored photo that appeared to depict the judge who approved the FBI search warrant of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The false photo showed U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart’s face replacing a real photo of Jeffrey Epstein receiving […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Walker grills for lawmakers as helicopter circles