DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE $7.5 MILLION CLEAN-UP?…. Late last week, Republicans in Wisconsin raised a new concern about the pro-labor protests at the state capitol: they’re making an expensive mess.
Specifically, the Walker administration said the repair and clean-up costs associated with the protests would cost Wisconsin taxpayers $7.5 million. Almost immediately, Fox News began trumpeting the price tag, with some of the network’s on-air personalities calling the figure “infuriating.”
Of course, in reality, what’s actually “infuriating” is when people lie and news outlets with no professional standards mislead the public. The talking point about the $7.5 million clean-up was made up.
Think of it this way: If you paid someone $20 an hour, with a standard 40-hour workweek, that person would be peeling tape and scrubbing marble for 180 years. […]
The culprit: Tape used to put up protest signs. The tape adhesive is acidic, the marble is a base, so, over time, the tape could etch the stone.
The damage claim rocketed around the Internet (such as here and here and here) and on news reports and talk shows around the world (here and here). Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch posted the figure on her Facebook page, generating more than 125 comments — mostly from people condemning the protesters and the extraordinary level of damage they allegedly caused.
But other testimony and news reports from the Capitol indicated that something was amiss.
Protesters had, by all accounts, policed themselves, including creating cleanup details and other organizational efforts. They used blue painters’ tape to hang their signs — at the request of state officials. Some protesters said the state had actually provided the tape to avoid lasting damage.
Another talking point bites the bust.
On a more substantive note, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who’s refused to compromise, is privately letting Democrats know he’d consider a plan in which he’d only eliminate some collective bargaining rights for state workers. Dems see this as obviously insufficient, but as Greg Sargent noted, it’s worth appreciating the significance of the governor feeling “the political need to drop his wholly uncompromising stance and refusal to negotiate — both of which had won him plaudits from the right.”