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'Regular Rotary Luncheon' Featuring Paul Ryan Draws Protestors, Police

Weekly meeting is punctuated by protestors, but police from four different cities keep things on schedule.

The Whitnall Park Rotary, which serves Muskego, Greenfield and Greendale, has met at Klemmer's Banquet Hall every Tuesday for a luncheon meeting, with guest speakers providing information to members and guests.

However, this week's scheduled speaker - Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin's 1st District - drew almost more attention than the charitable group had bargained for.

Board member Scott Schenke said initial inquiries on the event came in from national media, with the mistaken impression that Ryan was charging to speak. However, despite the club responding that the costs were to cover lunch and hall fees, the message did not reach publication.

"We are a charitable organization that raises money to help combat polio around the world, among other things," Schenke said. "We aren't here to raise money to pay for people's lunch."

The spotlight the event garnered drew protestors and Ryan supporters, who each took a portion of the median along Oklahoma Avenue just across from Klemmers as Ryan took the podium Tuesday. He attempted to make light of the situation, saying "apparently you Rotarians don't like free lunches either....welcome to a 'new normal' in Wisconsin."

After lunch, as Ryan began to speak, various protestors who had purchased lunch stood up to challenge Ryan, each holding a sign that asked "Where are the Jobs?"  

Ryan's speech was on the debt crisis and spending reduction, and he entertained questions in the last 20 minutes. However, most of the protestors had either opted to leave or had been taken out, and there were no further incidents inside the hall.

Jane Rule, who had been the last at her table of people who took a bus to the event, came from Whitewater and thought Ryan did not address their main concerns of "what he would do to bring jobs to the area."

Outside, the protests and counter-protests were spirited but peaceful, with police from West Allis, , Hales Corners and Franklin, as well as Milwaukee County Sheriff's deputies.  

"We've tried to get a chance to talk to Paul," said one man who had been at the luncheon but withheld his name. "We've asked for many opportunities to meet with him at a public forum and his office has refused."

"All these conservatives that are our representatives are supporting corporate interests," said Steven Sweet of Bay View. "It’s the same mantra over and over again, but how else can I put it. They’re cutting programs and not asking anyone else to share the sacrifice."

Supporters, many from outside the immediate area, also came out.

"I really support Paul Ryan and I support what he stands for. I believe that you can’t take from Peter to pay Paul and this country has been doing it for how many years," said Ginny Holton from Brown Deer. "We have to stop the spending that’s going on. We need a strong, moral government that has some integrity, one that follows the constitution. … we just need a different direction, and I do think Paul Ryan is man of integrity."

"We're here just to support Paul," said Gary from Burlington.  "We had heard they were bussing people in from Racine, and we wanted to take up a call to action."

After the luncheon, organizers said they were glad the police were there, as they were nervous not knowing what to expect.

James Thorsen, a member of Rotary and past president, said, "This was just our regular meeting. We've had other politicians come to speak in the past who were on the other side and did not have this kind of reaction." 

In all, three arrests were made, two for trespassing, one for trespassing and resisting arrest. All were given municipal citations and released.

James R Hoffa September 07, 2011 at 06:24 PM
If anyone is still not convinced about this group’s true intentions, just visit their website and facebook page and you’ll find very little mention about ‘jobs.’ For a group supposedly all about 'jobs,' there are no links to online WI job banks, help wanted pages, re-education opportunities, resume tips, nor even press releases of jobs recently announced being created like Ruud in Racine County, Uline in Kenosha County, etc. Instead, what you'll find is talk about union solidarity, the greatness of the Democratic Party, how the Republicans and rich are in bed with each other and are evil, and the usual class warfare rhetoric. Again, very little if anything at all actually about 'jobs.' I’ll say again – JOBS MY BUTT!!! These people are nothing but LIARS and a poor example to our children!
James R Hoffa September 07, 2011 at 06:52 PM
She could have asked a question during the designated Q and A period at the end of the speech. Instead, she chose to speak over Ryan at the beginning of his speech in a dictating manner. She did not follow the rules laid out by the house/organizers. So no, she did not have a 'right to speak' in the manner in which she chose. As Duane has already stated, she was acting like an 'idiot' and was appropriately arrested and removed from the premises. This woman is a poor example, period.
James R Hoffa September 07, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Yes, Obama will save us - I can hardly wait! I only wonder why he waited 3 years before finally giving us the 'hope and change' we can believe in! :-)
Terry September 07, 2011 at 07:59 PM
It's so sad reading the comments from the mis-guided, bitter, sound bit oritented, 'no nothings'.Do you homework and read and study and stop listedning to the likes of Hussein Obaba, Pelosi, Hoffa and that ilk. they all know they are on the wrong side of the budget and jobs issues and so they just call names, divide, swear, and moan. You people are pathetic!!!
Duane Michalski September 08, 2011 at 12:20 AM
really??I have been to several town halls as well as having many opportunities to speak with Rep. Ryan at various county fairs. You must not be trying too hard. Or is it that you would rather just be a furry headed little liberal who has nothing but hate in your heart? I bet it is the later!
Barb Kellams Truitt September 08, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Voting for Ryan isn't a guarantee of no more social security or Medicare, but I agree with the rest of Molly's response. The poster below claims to have had many opportunities to speak with Ryan at county fairs, but apparently not in the county he is supposed to represent. I think he's become too full of himself to take note of his constituents
CowDung September 08, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Is caring about 'the rich' and corporations such a bad thing? Most people work for rich people and/or corporations--if they leave Wisconsin, so do our jobs...
Duane Michalski September 08, 2011 at 11:14 PM
Barb...Congressman Ryan was at the Walworth, Rock and Kenosha county fairs.
Duane Michalski September 08, 2011 at 11:15 PM
And I forgot , he had 7 town halls in 3 days. Muskego, Franklin, Racine and Oak Creek were some of the stops.
Duane Michalski September 08, 2011 at 11:17 PM
So tell me, is anyone better off today then they were when Obummer took office?
Jason Patzfahl September 10, 2011 at 03:21 PM
If you think paying $15 to ask your congressman a question is ridiculous - there is a FREE meet and greet with Rob Zerban today at the Greendale Community Center (6200 S. 76th street - large park on the east side of 76th street opposite of the Root river parkway). Rob will be challenging Paul Ryan for Wisconsin's 1st congressional district in 2012 and there will be free hot dogs, chips, soda and political banter. Did I mention that unlike a Paul Ryan per per view event, this is FREE!
Duane Michalski September 10, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Jake....why would you pay $15 to talk with Congressman Ryan? I speak with him several times a year. I call his office and see him several time a year. As for the $15....that is the fee at the ROTARY lunch every other week. So the fee that was charged went to the ROTARY>>>> NOT>>>>> the congressman. So if if your intent is to lie...I will be happy to make you look like the fool you are and I will keep the people informed with the truth. As far as zebran goes...i ask him what his plan would be to fix the fiscal issues...he had a blank stare on his face and had no answer.
patchreader 123 September 21, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Jake: How do you reconcile your statement with the below announcement? U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, discusses the federal budget, the debt and the 2012 U.S. Senate race during a WisPolitics.com luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 27. The event is open to the public, and the price for lunch is $19. The luncheon starts at 11:45 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Call the Madison Club to register at (608) 255-4861 or email reception@madisonclub.org. The sponsors for this year's luncheon series are: American Family Insurance, Aurora Health Care, University Research Park, Wal-Mart, WHD Law, and Xcel Energy.
Brian Dey September 21, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Yes, a long history of being whinig losers.
Brian Dey September 21, 2011 at 11:59 PM
sorry, whining
Brian Dey September 22, 2011 at 12:05 AM
For the record, Paul Ryan has held more free townhall meetings than all other WI Congressman combined. He is considered to be the most accessible politician in the state and freely gives of his time for good causes. And Jake, nobody really wants to listen to this Zerban guy because we already have one of THE best Congressman in Ryan. I'm sure there will be free hot dogs and chips, and cigarettes on election day hosted by Zerban.
Tom September 22, 2011 at 01:58 AM
@Brian Dey ... You are correct in your assessment of Paul Ryan.
Rees Roberts September 22, 2011 at 09:25 AM
Tom Kenny, Brian Dey, Duane Michalski and others who call themselves conservative are doing what they do. They speak their mind from the right. Liberals do what they do. Speak from the left. But who speaks for the middle? Who speaks for consensus? Who speaks for more than just the current majority in congress? They might argue that they are the voice of consensus. However, why do we have no ability to arrive at problem solving in Washington D.C.? Is it always the opposing party who is at fault? Until "we" can get beyond this republican vs democrat rat race we are currently in, until we can again get back to the art of compromise in our discussions, we will not make true progress solving our countries problems. By definition, we can't. All we see here, just in this Patch.com comment section is them vs us, republican vs democrats, conservative vs liberal comments. I, for one, want to see people making comments that will start to get our country thinking we can get along in our discourse and conversation. If all we want to do is pick sides, our children can do that. Aren't we any better than that? God I sincerely hope so.
Brian Dey September 22, 2011 at 11:54 AM
Most of the time Rees, you will find me not blaming one side, but defending my beliefs. My beliefs are built on years of experience; from being in a union to running a business, from campaigning for certain individuals to being an elected official. If something isn't working, than compromising will not work either. If there is a problem; there is a solution and I don't profess to have all the answers, but I believe I can add value to a conversation based on my experience. Right now, I believe there are only a few problem-solvers in elected office. Those that take action where action is needed that actually tackle problems. I believe Walker and Ryan are those type of problem-solvers. You may not like how they solve it, but they solve it.
Tom September 22, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Certainly the abysmal approval rating for Congress over many years underscores the overall dissatisfaction that Americans (including myself) have for politicians on both sides of the aisle. We need problem solvers. We don't need any more career politicians that remain intransigent with their political agendas while America continues to decline in wealth, quality of life and international standing.
Rees Roberts September 22, 2011 at 05:36 PM
Tom Kenny, it was a bit amusing that you decided to use the phrase "We don't need any more career politicians that remain intransigent with their political agendas" because if you go through your comments here I believe you could characterize them as unbending and intransigent if not predictable. I feel you are defending, as Brian Dey says "your beliefs". But when you see others defend their own beliefs, is there no wiggle room? Can compromise occur? For example, you said "@Brian Dey ... You are correct in your assessment of Paul Ryan." Both you and Brian believe that Ryan has been accessible. I personally attended a very well attended "listening session" and came out of there realizing he did all the talking and the public did the listening. It was supposed to be just the opposite. Out of the hour and a half he took only a few questions over a span of 10 minutes. Can you then imagine how that might skew how someone looks at Ryan? He called the event a listening session but the public had little time allotted to ask questions or to share their opinions with Ryan. How can this be accessibility? We must start to recognize that the ills at congress are trickling down to how we react to each other. I honestly believe we need to learn to respect what others say and even find room to understand their point of view. Further dialog, over time will only then begin the process of trust and allow community solutions to occur. Else it will just be business as usual.
CowDung September 22, 2011 at 08:22 PM
What did Ryan talk about during the listening session? Did he address any of the issues that people were concerned about? Did you ever consider that rather than devoting the whole time to questions, he thought it would be a more beneficial use of time to instead speak about the most common issues that he has been hearing about through phone calls and letters to his office?
Rees Roberts September 22, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Cowdung, Ryan had his own agenda. The people didn't have a chance to provide him feedback. And if he thought it was more beneficial to speak then why did he call it a "listening session"? I went there to provide my feedback to him. Many, who I knew in the audience, also went there for the same purpose. None of us had any opportunity to say anything to him. It was obviously frustrating. He is supposed to represent us but when he organizes a meeting to listen to us he just shares his propaganda. I already knew that before I went there. If this is how it is supposed to work then we are all in trouble. Bottom line: he wasn't interested in what we had to say. Hundreds of people felt the same way.
CowDung September 22, 2011 at 09:24 PM
What feedback were you hoping to provide to Ryan? Hopefully it would be different than the 'feedback' he has been getting at the Rotary club lunches. Did you consider that the protesters showing up at such events might have been a factor in Ryan's decision to speak first rather than open the floor up to potential disruptions? I guess my point was that if people had been choosing to provide their 'feedback' via phone calls and letters in the days/weeks before the event, it makes sense for him to speak to those concerns and/or clarify his positions on those issues. Certainly, you can see the need for clarifications given the misinformation floating about regarding his alleged 'ending' of Medicare and Social Security.
Bren September 22, 2011 at 10:39 PM
A friend attended Paul Ryan's Racine Town Hall Meeting and her question was very specific to his Medicare voucher concept. Mr. Ryan answered that Americans would receive the same health care benefits that he receives as a Congressman. My friend pointed out that his Medicare plan as laid out provided no contingencies for increases in private health insurance rates, which is a difference because as a Congressman, he receives cost of living adjustments to compensate for health insurance rate increases. Ordinary folks living on fixed incomes and gutted Social Security won't have that luxury. Confronted with a fact, Paul apparently started spewing talking points and wouldn't provide a response. Personally, I think the higher ups in the Republican Party allowed Paul to present his plan so that anything presented later would seem reasonable in comparison. It's an old trick, but if enough people keep falling for it, why change? When I'm old, sick, and homeless, without the Medicare or Social Security benefits that I thought I would have because I've been paying in for years, I'm planning to take up residence in front of the nearest Republican Party campaign office so everyone can see how well trickle down economics and the destruction of social investments worked. I'll probably have lots of company!
CowDung September 23, 2011 at 01:08 PM
The value of the 'vouchers' Ryan has proposed would increase with inflation, and take into account both the consumer price index and its medical care component. What protections do seniors currently have against increases in their Medicare premiums?
patchreader 123 September 23, 2011 at 02:11 PM
I applaud Paul Ryan, regardless of party affiliation, for at least proposing a solution to this country's mounting debt. Of course, such a solution can be, and has been, debated by both sides of the partisan divide. We need more legislators who are willing to put themselves out there by proposing similar aggressive solutions. Otherwise we have the same old dog and pony show of legislators talking the talk instead of walking the walk.
patchreader 123 September 23, 2011 at 02:40 PM
Here are some more aggressive ideas, as proposed by Wisconsin's own Ron Johnson. http://ronjohnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=b61bc3d5-a0e9-4d48-ba25-17d4b1f238b6
CowDung September 23, 2011 at 02:58 PM
I think that is an excellent point. Ryan's plan might not be perfect, but it can and should be a starting point for the discussions that have to happen. Unfortunately, the opposition seems more interested in spreading lies and distorting facts instead of providing constructive criticisms of his plan and coming up with something that everyone can approve of.
patchreader 123 September 23, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Yet more ideas, this time from Senator Coburn of Oklahoma: http://coburn.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=8adfc09e-066a-427e-9ecf-191e0b3f6cbb

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