Wisconsin Recall Webcam So Boring It’s Mesmerizing

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — You know you live in a state consumed by politics when a webcam showing bureaucrats silently shuffling around a nondescript room feeding papers into a scanner attracts tens of thousands of viewers.

Such is the case in Wisconsin.

The cam, featuring a live look at the guarded, secret location where petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker and five other Republicans are being housed and processed, has its own account on Twitter and a growing cadre of followers who’ve attached nicknames to the workers, pointed out when people mug for the camera and generally mock the entire process.

Live sex shows, it ain’t.

It isn’t even as interesting as all those webcams that have drawn large followings in recent years to watch pandas give birth or baby eagles take flight.

But this is Wisconsin, after all, a state that’s been at the center of the political universe since Walker was elected governor. He immediately turned the state upside down, taking on public sector unions and igniting a protest movement that led to the recall effort. On Tuesday, organizers said they turned in more than a 1.9 million signatures to recall Walker and the others, 3 tons of paper that would extend 66 miles if laid end to end.

And someone has got to deal with all that.

Enter the ultimate in blandly named bureaucratic bodies — the Government Accountability Board — which has the important job of overseeing Wisconsin’s elections and determining whether recall elections can proceed.

Its task is to examine every signature and make sure that Mickey Mouses and Adolf Hitlers get caught and discarded, along with any Walker-hater who signed multiple times. But before that can happen, all 300,000 pages must be scanned in to computers.

The Government Accountability Board, or GAB as it’s known in these parts, wants to be, well, accountable. So as the work proceeds at the secret location, it’s letting the public eavesdrop through the webcam.

When it first got plugged in Tuesday night, the view was straight on at roughly waist level. Viewers got a chance to look at the back of the bald head of one worker and the scanner, presumably humming had there been sound, and the somewhat blank stare of the police officer sitting in the corner making sure security wasn’t breached.

By Thursday, onlookers were treated to a new view of their government at work. This time the cam was positioned higher up, offering a bird’s-eye view of eight computers and four folding tables arranged together where stacks of paper with post-it notes attached were picked up, moved, set back down, and moved again. All of the action takes place against a stark, white cinder block wall.

Political junkies couldn’t get enough. They made observations on the parody Twitter account (at)recallcam.

Much of the debate focused on where in Madison the work was being done.

One tweeter posited it was Osama bin Laden’s old compound.

Others comment on what the workers are wearing, noting more sweaters and scarves on a day when temperatures dipped near zero outside.

Still others came up with nicknames for the workers like “Sideburns,” ”White Glasses” and “Flirty von Flirtenheimer.”

Board spokesman Reid Magney, who has made cameo appearances on the cam, said at its busiest when it went online Wednesday around 400 people at the same time were watching it. By Thursday afternoon, after the tantalizing angle change, the webcam had logged 29,308 total visitors. The webcam is a first for GAB and is being provided free of charge to taxpayers by 5Nines.com of Madison, Magney said.

Magney, who acknowledged that watching the cam is as exciting as watching paint dry, was somewhat at a loss about its allure.

“People are interested in watching people do things, I guess,” he said.

Part of the attraction is just how boring it is.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and some of the mystery will be revealed in coming days when the board provides more details about what each worker is doing and where the processing is happening.

“We’ve had some questions from the public like, ‘What’s the guy on the left doing?'” Magney said.

But for now, the mystery is fueling the snark, even though the business being conducted is serious and likely to be the subject of multiple lawsuits. And the end result of the work could result in Walker and the others standing for recall elections later this year.

And that will be a spectacle certain to attract far more attention than the webcam at the undisclosed, secure location.

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

  • G Dog

    Walker could save everyone some trouble and just resign after admitting that he is scapegoating public employees and it’s the wealthy who are paying taxes far below what they should who are responsible Wisconsin’s woes.

    But that would be honesty, something the GOP has a difficult time with.

  • GH

    For the first time in 7 years my property taxes were lower in Wisconsin. I thank Walker for that. btw…I can’t believe CCO would put such a stupid article on their site. I know you are a bunch of conservative hating libos but come on!!

    • G Dog

      So how many people are you going to hire with your windfall?

  • rayjay

    Typical republicans. Blame the media and that makes your case, right? Protect the rich anyway you want and when you get caught, blame the media. Break the law and blame the media. Be immoral, Amy Koch, and blame the media. After all you are the religious party, right? Walker is a puppet.

    • GH

      You are really going to bring up morals? ok Clinton!!

      • just a note....

        Clinton may have gotten a BJ on office but everyone was working and the economy hasn’t been that good siince WW II. Plus his BJ didn’t cost anyone their jobs!!

        • Dude

          At least Clinton is a normal man.

        • another note...

          Wow! Who wrote your history books, Michael Moore?

          It’s one thing to fool around with a chubby intern, it’s another to foolishly lie about it. On the economy: Clinton came in office as the economy was rebounding, rode the dot.com bubble, left office before it burst, defunded the military, and faced how many national disasters?? He was great!

  • Kevin

    Wisconsin had one of the top 10 worse budget deficits in the Nation. Now they have a balanced budget and property taxes are big time lower. If the voters of Wisconsin want a huge budget deficit and higher property taxes they will vote Walker out and vote in the Union clone. I hate all politicians….but I get so tired of the the casterated liberals spewing the same garbage about Republicans protecting the rich….I wish for once a casterated liberal would look into the Wisconsin issue and tell me how Walker is protecting the rich and how much money he is giving the rich. If you dont have facts….keep your moronic comments to yourself…..and if your a GOP’r….stop spewing your God like views while your banging anything that walks….all though all politicians do that…..Barney Frank….Clinton…..Kennedy….on and on…and on….they are all full of bs……

  • G Dog

    Calm down Kevin my friend. Take a deep breath and a Ritalin.

    The FACT is that state worker’s unions didn’t cause the deficit. But it gave the Koch brothers’ hand picked boy an excuse to do their bidding. On top of that, Walker never mentioned state workers and their unions in his campaign, so his actions were guerrilla, sucker punch tactics that singled out one group.

    As far as facts, here you go:


    • Raej2

      The FACT is that SOME unions (some are necessary) were abusing their negotiating power and since certain politicians live in the back pockets of those abusing unions, the unions were running the state, costing the state much more money than a capitalist economy would have. Thank you Gov. Walker for reigning in the union leaders. The union leaders were the only ones winning before…

    • Center of Left and Right

      G Dog, the right can throw out BS facts as well as the left can. Fact is that the moves by Governor Walker balanced the states budget and he saved the Milwaukee school district almost a million a year by insisting on opening up the bids for Health Insurance . So yeah he ran roughshod over the old union establishment, but oddly enough their credit ratign is getting better and the people are paying less in taxes. If people would quit thinking of this as a left and right issue, they would see that doing everything one way is what got Wisconsin into the mess they had. Now Wisconsin needs to find the middle ground and not swing all the way to the right, because of course they do not have all the answers either.

      • G Dog

        Little comfort to the few who are making $4000-$6000 less this year than last. Maybe you’d consider making a contribution to the state fund in that amount and encourage your friends to do so so you can share the pain?

        The end justifies the means? Be very careful with that ideology. Be very, very careful.

        Hitler achieved zero unemployment in Germany by rounding up Jews and other undesirables. the end justifies the means for the majoirty?

        I pray not.

        • Kevin

          Oh G DIggity Dog….You didnt just use a “Hitler” analogy did you? Why? Why? Why do liberals always have to throw the “Hitler” analogy out? I mean Bush is Hitler, Palin is Hitler, Arizona is full of Hitlers, Fox News is run by Hitler, and Corporations all have “Mein Kampf” as their HR guide. Why not say something like “The Cookie Monster achieved zero bullying in Sesame Street by rounding up all the Grinchs and giving them a cookie”. So much better. I mean Walker is just a political tool…..but he did not kill millions.

          • G Dog

            Sometimes you have to use extreme examples to wake people up to the fact that they may be next.

            Is Walker a Hitler? Absolutely not.

            Himmler, maybe, but certainly not Hitler

  • Murph

    Despite a record crop of manure harvested during the Iowa GOP infestation.The farmers is South Carolina might profit even more with a pile so big that the entire state has compressed is is now in danger of a major earthquake or two in the coming days or perhaps hours or minutes.Proving that what they say is good for you always has a defect that they try to cover up!Yes the GOP has spread the main gist of it’s campaign issues and the stink is pretty much unbearable and gas masks are selling out !Another disaster from the Party of No!And that’s no s— !

  • Kevin

    G Diggity Dog…….your on to something here. See the looney left and I can see eye to eye….once in a millenium…..Seems that Walker cut deep into entitlements to balance the budget. While I could find no facts showing increases to the rich and or corporations. I agree to decreasing entitlements…I think even you know that has to be done. But I think we also need to slap the rich a bit! You know when a singer has a baby and spends 1.3 million dollars to take over a whole floor at the hospital……a slapping is needed! Or when a basketball player is paid 200 million dollars to toss a little round piece of rubber into a hole with a net…a slapping is needed….Or when United Heath Care refuses services to the insured…..moves alot of jobs to India…..then makes billions in profit…..a slapping is needed….at the same time….my sister has not worked in 20 years….she is a human slug…..there is nothing wrong with her…..she just loves getting paid to do nothing…..a slapping is needed…….

    Budget highlights include: [19]
    •$800 million reduction in school spending
    •Reduces the ability to make up the difference through property tax increases
    •Cuts University of Wisconsin System funding by $250 million
    •Eliminates $500 million from the state’s Medicaid programs
    •Establishes an enrollment cap on the Family Care program designed to keep poor, elderly people out of nursing homes
    •Property taxes are held nearly flat with the projected increase on the average home about $50 over the next two years
    •Eliminating benefits for some poor families under the Earned Income Tax Credit and freezing benefits under the homestead tax credit program

  • Chuck D

    Recall Elections = Sore Losers.

    • G Dog

      Recall Election = Lying Winner

  • yawn

    In fact, the whole thing is so pointless and boring that the media has to call it mesmerizing to give the whole fruitless exercise some sort of significance. In reality the tax leeches in Wisconsin just haven’t accepted the fact that the current economy won’t keep their gravy train on the rails.

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