I received this email from my Assembly Representative in Wisconsin's 42nd, Fred Clark. I'm proud to have supported Fred, even more so for what he had to say in his letter.
I hope this qualifies as a diary, not sure, but I thought it would be helpful to bring Fred's inspiring words, his descriptions of the abandonment of procedure and respect at the highest levels of government in Wisconsin, and this incredible video of that abandonment and the impassioned rescue of responsibility by the Assembly's Democratic representatives.
I'll let Fred take it from here, in the body. All Rec's are for him and these courageous legislators.
And please don't miss this video. You want to see Part 4 .
This body of legislature, and these proceedings, are adjourned until Tuesday. TUESDAY. That's when we find out who has the momentum. The moral high ground is clear - and the passion that sustains a movement, any movement towards justice, is ours to claim.
Democracy is good; Justice is the fruit of true democracy. Make your voices heard and your presence known on Monday, and again Tuesday for the next Assembly session.
Come gather ’round people
None of us could have imagined one week ago that such a dramatic and historic set of events would be playing out in Wisconsin.
All of my Assembly Democratic colleagues and I have continued hearing testimony for over 72 hours from over one thousand Wisconsin citizens on SS AB-11 (the "budget repair bill"). At 3:00 a.m. last Thursday, I walked through the Capitol halls after listening to three hours of public comment on this legislation. As I stepped past the many hundreds of people who have been camped out on the marble floors each night in every available public space, it struck me that this is much more than a protest – but rather a small city of people that has sprung up at the Capitol almost overnight, and has created its own community, and its own culture of civility and respect.
When over 2% of Wisconsin’s entire population travels to the seat of government to make their voices heard, EVERY elected official should have an obligation to stop and listen. Instead, many have simply run and hidden, refusing to open their doors or engage their constituents, or even acknowledge them. I am exceptionally proud, however, of how the Assembly Democrats have comported ourselves and what we have accomplished this week.
Not Quite Your Typical Day in the Legislature
I never imagined for a second, and will almost certainly never again experience, the sensation of walking around my “work place” with thousands upon thousands of people lining every hallway and stairway, cheering, high-fiving, and chanting "thank-you."
Earlier in the day on Friday, I joined Minority Leader Peter Barca and other colleagues in walking to the Governor’s office to ask him to show some leadership and help find a resolution to this massive, but peaceful, conflict. At the governor’s office, we were welcomed by over five minutes with a closed door, until finally a spokesperson appeared, along with the chief of the Capitol Police, telling us simply that the Governor, although he was present in the building, was unavailable to meet with us that afternoon and would be unavailable in the evening as well.
Governor Walker’s failure to exercise any leadership whatsoever in helping resolve this crisis, in the face of numerous offers of conciliation by both legislators and organized labor groups, is as blatantly irresponsible as it is tragic.
But you could not write fiction more astonishing than what transpired in the Assembly chambers later Friday afternoon. Following an afternoon caucus, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald had ordered the Assembly to re-convene at 5:00 p.m. However, in an unprecedented act that violated not only the rules of the Assembly, but any respect for democratic process, the Speaker and his colleagues called the roll and began to hurriedly take action on the bill minutes before 5 o'clock, without a single Democrat in the chamber – ignoring amendments that had been properly introduced, and then moving the bill to an un-amendable stage. All in front of national media. Fortunately, thanks to the strong leadership of Rep. Barca, we put a stop to that action, and finally forced an adjournment until Tuesday.
We don’t often think of legislative proceedings as high drama, but this 32-minute session (look for Assembly Floor Session - Part Four on Wisconsin Eye) is worth every minute and includes some exceptional scenes, and floor speeches by my colleagues that’ll set you back on your heels. If you listen carefully, the chants of thousands of protesters outside the Assembly chambers can also be heard.
What’s at Stake
In case you were unclear where I stand, I believe this bill has very little to do with budget repair. It is, however, a blatant attack on the rights of workers and their families. It will have a devastating impact on our local economies. It will drive smart, educated, and talented people from our state. It will send more of our citizens who happen to be under-paid public employees into poverty. It will hand unprecedented authority to un-elected political appointees to re-write state law and deny citizens access to successful programs like Badger Care and Family Care. And ironically, among the very few provisions of the bill that actually have any current fiscal impact, according to our Legislative Fiscal Bureau, it will worsen, not improve but WORSEN, our current budget situation by over $56 million dollars.
I’ll be back at the Capitol on Monday, working along with my colleagues to do everything in our power for as long as necessary to stop this disastrous legislation. In the meantime, I am extremely grateful for all the support from friends who have stopped by, but more importantly from the many thousands of people who have lent their voice to this historic effort night and day for the past week and who are prepared to do so as long as necessary.
As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve as your state representative.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call