Local legislators are talking to each other?

At least the county board is no longer ‘divisive’

Say this for Brenda Konkel. She is something of a local government watchdog. She an open meetings maven, which is to her credit. She is blowing the whistle on, especially, the Dane County Board of Supervisors and the Madison Board of Education. 

Madame Konkel divulges that County Board Chairman Sharon Corrigan has been meeting with committee heads — sometimes as many as 10 supervisors out of the 37 total — a week before the actual publicly noticed County Board meetings. Given that the board is near total Democrat/Progressive Dane, this is rich!

Witch Trial

Actually the Salem witch trials but a good representation of our county board meetings back in the day. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

⇒ It explains why county board meetings wrap up in as little as a half hour as compared to hours for the city council.

Again, good for Brenda. Corrigan et al answer that there is no agenda and no votes are taken, that it’s an informal sharing of information, according to Chris Rickert, who followed up. Blaska Policy Werkes opines that such confabs might be better handled at open meetings of the Executive Committee who, at one time, largely consisted of those committee chairs.

Indeed, Wisconsin’s open meetings law is strict. It prohibits a “walking quorum,” which the state attorney general’s Open Meetings Law Compliance Guide defines as:

A “walking quorum” is a series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in sufficient number to reach a quorum.  … The requirements of the open meetings law thus cannot be circumvented by using an agent or surrogate to poll a quorum of the members of governmental bodies through a series of individual contacts. Such a circumvention “almost certainly” violates the open meetings law.

Laws and sausages

Even so, Blaska posits this: the legislative process is inherently messy. Its workings are amorphous. Contrast with the executive branch, which is — as Lincoln himself once said — a majority of one. Legislatures are intended to be — it can only work if — collegial, collaborative, and in constant contact with one another — if only enough to produce a working majority. Legislators are not discalced hermits.

Comment, respond, what do you thinkAre three legislators on a seven member board barred from taking lunch and talking over the issues of the day? Yes, according to the law, if they commit to voting a certain way. Especially if they subsequently gain concurrence from a fourth, making a majority. But how do the speech regulators adjudicate a breaking of bread where the participants agree that excellent points have been made by all at the table?

⇒ Can we walk and talk down the hallway? “Think you can go with us on that proposal, Alder? It would help your district.” Or must I shun colleagues, make small talk? How ‘bout them Packers?

Let’s face it, that’s what happens in the Wisconsin state legislature in a process known as the party caucus. Behind closed doors. No news media. Republicans get their act together in their caucus, Democrats in theirs.  Same with the U.S. Congress.

Can’t respond to news media questions?

Some of this has gotten weird. The Capital Times polled alders and school board members on situating the F-35 aircraft at Madison’s Truax Field last fall. In this case, Brenda Konkel rightly accuses elected reps from hiding behind the Open Meetings Law to frustrate public transparency. How ironic is that!

Brenda writes that she blogged about the chilling impact on public information in October. The city attorney said this:

I am concerned that this sort of “straw poll” on an issue that may reappear on the Council’s agenda is an invitation to violate the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law. This could easily be seen as an attempt at creating a walking quorum.  … I recognize that this also could be seen as a benign attempt to get the political positions of local politicians.

The school board got the same advice. Yet, school board members had been meeting informally with then Supt. Jennifer Cheatham for “informational updates.” (The Policy Werkes sees no problem with that, btw.)

Back in the day 

After decades of liberal hegemony, conservatives took a bare majority on the Dane County Board back in 2004 and again two years later. The liberals, unable to counter us on the issues and being generally poor losers, cried that the county board had become “divisive.” The Capital Times, stenographers of the political Left, dutifully took up the cry.

Eventually, this Blaska stood up to counter their disinformation campaign. This county board is the sound democracy makes,” I said. “It is where the issues of the day are fully debated, we take roll call of all the members on the Yeas and Nays. That doesn’t occur on the fourth floor (where the county executive lives).” 

 

Dane County liberals exerted near-total control after redrawing district boundaries in 2011 and began meeting for dress rehearsals before that practice was exposed three years later. A working majority, in indisputable violation of the Open Meetings statute.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: Want open government and real debate? Elect real diversity — of opinion, not rubber stamps.

What do YOU think?

About David Blaska

Madison WI
This entry was posted in Dane County Board, Free speech and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Local legislators are talking to each other?

  1. AnonyBob says:

    Sorry to disappoint everyone, but I think Dave is right on the money with this post.

    Like

    • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

      You’ve never disappointed The Gotch, AnonyBob; due in part to the fact that you benefit from low expectations.

      Genuine H/T for manfully conceding agreement with an ideological nemesis!

      The Gotch

      Like

  2. geo_ says:

    Blaska’s Bottom Line: Want open government and real debate? Elect real diversity — of opinion, not rubber stamps.
    I couldn’t agree more, as we’ve seen at both the state and federal levels, one party rule is anathema to democracy as evidenced by State Senator Fitzgerald’s refusal to debate sensible gun laws and Moscow Mitch’s refusal to act on hundreds of pieces of legislation sent his way.

    Like

    • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

      ”one party rule is anathema to democracy”

      You don’t say?

      Pass your concerns along to the Lefty-Centric CommonSenseLess Council and the Lefty-Centric Dane County Board.

      They, and Lefty, are fine-n-dandy with one party rule, am I right?

      With but one caveat……

      The Gotch

      Liked by 1 person

      • geo_ says:

        I don’t live in Dane County so it’s really no business of mine. I live in Waukesha County where we also have one party rule, and yes I’m working to change that here. We all have seen the damage done by one party rule, remember the lies of the “Tax-Cuts and Jobs Creation” bill.

        Like

        • David Blaska says:

          You mean the Record High Employment and Stock Market Retirement bill?

          Like

        • geo_ says:

          Exactly Dave, that bill. The one that was supposed to give working Americans a 4-9K more, the one that will give small business a big tax-cut, the one that was supposed to spur corporate investment in manufacturing, the one that was supposed to reduce the nations debt (yet is increasing it a trillion dollars/year during a period of slow economic expansion) the one that was going to lead to 4-5-6% economic growth. the one that will pay for itself,. Most morons understand that the stock market growth is due to corporate stock buy backs which really add nothing to the GDP and have not produced substantial family supporting jobs.

          Like

        • David Blaska says:

          Are you trying to make the case that the economy is in the dumps? Because no one is buying that message.

          Like

        • geo_ says:

          NO, I’m saying the tax-cut and jobs creation bill was either sold to Americans based on lies, or the republicans who supported it are clueless morons who had no idea as to the effects of it. Yes, the economy is doing good, life is good when you borrow, what about when you have to pay it back? Those that are enjoying the gains are not the ones who have to pay it back. Doesn’t surprise me that you are willing to take the spoon out of a hungry child’s mouth so you can afford to eat out a couple of times a month.

          Like

        • David Blaska says:

          Name one hungry child, geo.

          Like

        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

          ”Yes, the economy is doing good, life is good when you borrow, what about when you have to pay it back?” (bolds mine)

          Sheesh!!! You fulfill the contractual terms to which both parties agreed before you got the check!

          We learned from the disastrous democrat debacle/voter drive (AKA the CRA) that lenders should employ prudent underwriting when considering lending to credit risks.

          The economy? I heard some Iranian named Esmail Ghaani was just promoted to general; The Donald is even creating jobs in the ME…

          The Gotch

          Like

        • David Blaska says:

          You mean t record high employment and stock market retirement bill?

          Like

    • Batman says:

      Geo,
      Please explain what you mean by “sensible gun laws.”
      Thanks in advance.

      Liked by 2 people

      • geo_ says:

        Enhanced back ground checks which 78% of Wisconsinites support (see one party rule is anathema to democracy) and the red flag laws which 81% of Wisconsinites support but one party refuses to represent their constituents.

        Like

        • Batman says:

          Geo,
          Perhaps a few tweaks to background checks are in order, regardless, virtually ineffectual except to encumber the lawful.
          Red Flag laws, chilling, a tool of Big Brother. Don’t be fooled.
          Far better to strictly enforce the massive gun laws that already exist.

          Like

        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

          “Red Flag laws,”

          An aspiring Austrian watercolorist would’ve nodded in approval!

          The Gotch

          Like

  3. Cornelius Gotchberg says:

    “I don’t live in Dane County so it’s really no business of mine.”

    Shoot, mon frere, it’s yo’ bidness, you work here; The Gotch believes that counts for something.

    “I live in Waukesha County where we also have one party rule, and yes I’m working to change that here.”

    Caveat rising, am I right?

    “We all have seen the damage done by one party rule”

    To his credit, The Gotch voted for JoAnne Kloppenburg in 2016, against his better judgement, because he believes diversity is a worthwhile aspiration.

    Just not the only worthwhile aspiration….

    The Gotch

    Like

  4. geo_ says:

    The lawful don’t sell guns at gun shows without a background check, we know numerous killers legally purchased guns because their record didn’t come up in the three day window (Dylan Woof for one) and here in Wisconsin one part rule shortened the waiting period to 48 hours.

    Like

    • Batman says:

      Seriously, what percentage are you referring to Geo. You really think the gangbangers et al. go to gun shows to obtain their firearms or submit to background checks. Like I said, make some tweaks but even that will literally be inconsequential in curbing gun violence but will burden the lawful. Politicians are unwilling to address the deeper more difficult systemic issues driving gun violence so talk tough about more gun laws instead. Total BS, but it makes people think something is being done so they shut up for a while and the politician is reelected in the meantime. Red herring.

      Like

      • geo_ says:

        I’m referring to the percentage of voters who want to see democratic debate on the issue. Gang Bangers only shot each other (except for the police who shoot people). It’s fearful republicans who are now afraid of democracy who are a bigger problem than gang bangers.

        Like

        • David Blaska says:

          I do believe Sen. Fitzgerald and Rep. Vos have been elected and re-elected many times by their voters. But you blame them for the epidemic of teenagers stealing cars and crashing into each other? The gang bangers shooting each other would surrender their guns if only the Legislature would ban gang warfare? geo, did you just return from Rockford with a brick of vegetable matter?

          Like

        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

          ”Gang Bangers only shot each other”

          Funniest thing; some of those deceased Milwaukee/Chicago Gang Bangers are pretty gosh darn young to be affiliated.

          In Milwaukee alone 8 % of homicides are under age 17, 5 % under 9!

          “fearful republicans who are now afraid of democracy who are a bigger problem than gang bangers.”

          The Gotch implores you to cite that blithering nonsense before declaring you officially ’round the bend.

          The Gotch

          Like

  5. old baldy says:

    “but will burden the lawful”

    If my burden will save one innocent life, civilian or LE, I will gladly accept it. I’ll even take on yours.

    In the spirit of full disclosure: I am a gun owner, hunter, competitive shooter, and former Hunter Safety instructor. Was a 30+ year NRA member until they went off the deep end politically.

    Like

    • madisonexpat says:

      O’Ballsy channels his inner totalitarian and no you will take nothing of mine and for the record I’m not a hunter, not a gun owner but a good enough shot to have trained my Marine daughter to go on to shoot Expert five times.
      If I thought someone was coming to abridge my Constitutional right I would arm up quickly.
      Molon Labe Ballsy. And I’m not referring to a weapon but a right.

      Like

    • Batman says:

      baldy, “Was a 30+ year NRA member until they went off the deep end politically.”

      Why exactly did you quit the NRA?
      Thanks in advance.

      Like

      • old baldy says:

        bat:

        It started with the NRA being aggressive in their opposition to non-toxic shot. Then they started supporting politicians that were anti-environment, anti-habitat, and anti-science. Ronnie Raygun and his appointees like 1 watt and the ice queen are great examples at the national level. John Gard would be an early poster child in-state.

        Now you know.

        Like

  6. George's Son says:

    Geo & OB, it makes no sense to extrapolate stricter gun laws to a reduction in gun violence. Quote from a well-respected Shooting Sports site: “Over 300 million guns in the United States are not registered. Most were never required to be registered… Registration of guns is a failed crime-fighting theory. New Zealand and Canada repealed gun registration schemes as expensive and ineffective.”

    Like

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