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Retired Pastor Opens Mind, Front Yard to Walker Recall Movement

Governor's neighbor makes his feelings known on politics and the role of public workers.

Two voices harmonize what is America.

"It's a great country where both sides can come out and assemble and say what they want," Dan Yendrzeski of Menomonee Falls said Tuesday night that drew about 1,000 people to Wauwatosa. "There's not a lot countries where you can say that."

On the Wauwatosa street where Gov. Scott Walker lives, resident Gary Johnson recalls what his wife said earlier this year, the first time 1,000 people showed up to protest the governor's policies.

"She came home through the crowds," Johnson said, "and told me, 'This is America. Isn't that great, that we should all be able to do this?'"

The difference and dissonance follow.

Yendrzeski, standing at Juneau Playfield at the time, had gone on to say how much he supports Walker, how wrong he thought the recall effort was, and how very wrong he thought it was to take the rally to the street in front of the governor's family home.

Johnson, on the other hand, went on to explain why he not only supports recalling Walker from office but had gladly allowed organizers to set up a petition-signing table in his front yard.

"On an intellectual level, I thought it was terrible governance — to run and not say what he was really going to do," Johnson said. "I don't remember him saying he would disenfranchise public workers and villify teachers."

Johnson admits he is not unbiased. His wife, Christine, is a Wauwatosa schoolteacher. But his long-founded personal beliefs, he said, provide the foundation for his position and for the grove of "Recall Walker" signs in his front yard.

Johnson is a retired Lutheran minister, having spent 38 years in the calling, most recently as pastor of , 12012 W. North Ave.

"I come from a line of teachers," he said, "three generations from New Jersey and Long Island. And my father was a Republican and anti-union — but trade unions, not teachers' unions.

"I can live with Republicans. I grew up in Michigan with Gov. (William) Milliken, a great man and leader. I know about Republicans. But this isn't Republicanism. This is just about power, and holding it.

"I've lived here a long time, and I always thought it was a congenial mix of some old-time socialists and some hard-line McCarthyites and mostly thoughtful folks with slightly differing points of view.

"Then Walker was elected and all hell broke loose. I was really upset. There was no interest in sitting down and working out compromises on policy — just pushing through every right-wing agenda item."

Johnson said that what really pushed him make his feelings known with multiple signs in yard and windows, and ultimately to make his property available to the recall effort, was something he saw during that earlier march last spring.

"I met young couples who had gone into teaching, pushing their babies in strollers, and they were scared. They were worried for their futures and for their children.

"This is the guy (Walker) who was going to add jobs — but not their jobs. To say that public workers — teachers, park workers, clerks and accountants — are the problem, that's just wrong.

"What bothers me here was that it was not about balancing the budget but about demolishing the unions and thereby consolidating power. Without embarrassment but with arrogance he crossed that line.

"And people say that these (teachers) are people who will do it because they love it, and go on doing it regardless. If not true, we are in deep trouble. And even if true, how unfair.

"To balance the budget on the backs of one class is undemocratic."

Lyle Ruble November 22, 2011 at 04:20 AM
@Paris P...I'm not even a Democrat. I don't know about Donna. BTW I am a social democrat and I do this because I'm interested in politics. I think they call it a "political junkie".
Paris Procopis November 22, 2011 at 04:22 AM
@3393, thanks....I love to see how ignorant these paid posters that work for the Democrat party get. They are line by line according to the democrat Union handbook
Paris Procopis November 22, 2011 at 04:28 AM
Well Lyle, on that we agree! I love politics as well. So on that note, I say good night! I must committ a blatant act of capitalism early tomorrow!
Paris Procopis November 22, 2011 at 04:39 AM
3393, is there a way to private message in this venue?
donna c November 23, 2011 at 12:12 AM
@Lyle. Not a democrat either. She makes a lot of assumptions and jumps from Wisconsin to national politics to Europe when she thinks it makes a point. Uses the fact that 25-33% of classrooms in the state will have more students to teachers to prove some type of point. Doesn't realize that Walker used recall when it suited him, now it's somehow a problem. Just another person fighting against her own self interest who knows why (I don't think she's a millionaire)

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