UPDATE: County Board to meet tonight (11-21-17) to reconsider fees, including the $28 wheel tax, and the tax levy but NOT the county jail. More here.
Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting was continually disrupted by the 75 to 80 people in attendance by shouting, chanting, clapping, standing in the gallery, and reading prepared statements and then after more chants, the next person would stand and read a prepared statement, etc. This went on for over an hour. … I don’t believe that anything that occurred at the meeting once the disruption started should be valid … — Ronn Ferrell
The forces of chaos and public disorder disrupted another democratic institution Monday night in Madison: our elected Dane County Board of Supervisors, under the banner of “Derail the Jail.” Yes, these nut cases want NO JAIL at all! (We’ve written extensively about them.) Who do they represent? Maybe the sociology department at UW-Madison and the John Nichols chapter of the Socialist Workers Party. No one else. Because even Madison alders voted for more police just last week. No, even the smaller and more humane jail proposed for Dane County — really, a mental health hospital with bars — is too much for the anarchists.
County board staff walk through the supervisors to count thumbs up or down instead of a proper roll call vote as protestors shout “This is what democracy looks like.” Video by protestor enabler Brenda Konkel.
We turn to Ronn Ferrell, County Board for this first person account:
Last night the Dane County Board had it’s budget meeting. We have already held all our public meetings where anyone can speak for 5 minutes. We do not allow any discussion from the public at this meeting. That is one of our rules.
About half way through the meeting, we discussed an amendment to REMOVE $76 million in borrowing from the capital budget that was to be used for remodeling and expanding and updating the jail, as well as close the Ferris Center and the 6th & 7th floors of the CCB for jail use.
After significant discussion (with some interruptions from the gallery) the attempt to remove the $76 million from the budget failed.
Then the fun began. Sheriff Mahoney was in attendance and was a witness to the entire meeting.
Further amendments to actually complete some or all of the jail project (the $76M is only phase 1 of 3) – (the amendments meant to finance phases 2 and 3) were moved. The meeting was continually disrupted by the 75-80 people in attendance by shouting, chanting, clapping, standing in the gallery and reading prepared statements and then after more chants, the next person would stand and read a prepared statement, etc, etc. This went on for over an hour.
At the beginning of the meeting, County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan reminded those in attendance that those very things were not going to be allowed and if they occurred, the violators would be asked to leave the room. Our County Board rules do not allow it.
After a while, it became almost comical as the chair continually tried to remind the audience to be quiet or leave. I say almost comical because we were trying to conduct public business and discuss and debate the 2018 county budget. The chanting and shouting never stopped the rest of the meeting (at least an hour) and even thought the board took two “breaks” of about 10 minutes each, the chanting never stopped even during the breaks.
During the chanting, we would attempt to continue the meeting, but no one could hear discussion or debate. It got so bad that the board resorted to taking roll call votes in a very apropos way — thumbs up or thumbs down (I know the Romans didn’t actually do that in the Colosseum, but it’s a good comparison for the optics). Many supervisors, including myself, wanted to discuss the “wheel tax” and other issues but were unable to do so in a reasonable manner.
I don’t believe that anything that occurred at the meeting once the disruption started should be valid and therefore I am requesting a legal way to stop the signing and implementation of the budget until a proper discussion and debate can occur. The budget is expected to be signed by Parisi this morning, I believe he has a press conference extolling the virtues of everything late this morning.
Before the meeting ended, I notified the chair that I intended to seek legal advice to stop this travesty of democracy until we could return and conduct our meeting in a civilized manner.
Channel 3000 News 3 reported a “surreal” county board meeting that “was hard to follow” because of the “absolute pandemonium.”
Remember these names
They organized the assault on a democratically elected, representative government body Monday, November 20, 2017. In most cases, their organizations are just a handful of people, with the notable exceptions of Madison Urban Ministries, Progressive Dane, and the perpetually aggrieved UW-Madison teaching assistants.
M Adams – Freedom Inc.
Nino Rodriguez – Families for Justice, Free The 350 Bail Fund
Linda Ketcham – Madison Urban Ministries
CV Vitolo-Haddad – Wisconsin Debate, UW Activist
Heidi Wegleitner – County Board Supervisor
Teddy Shibabaw – Socialist Alternative
The “Derail the Jail” coalition:
Affordable Housing Action Alliance
Dane County Trans Health Group
Families for Justice
Madison Industrial Workers of the World
Madison Urban Ministry
Operation Welcome Home
Our Wisconsin Revolution – Dane County
Racial Justice Tipping Point
Student Coalition for Progress
Student Labor Action Coalition
The JVN Project
UW-Madison Teaching Assistants Association
Young Gifted and Black