A few members of the county board have been openly discussing their disdain for the public and the message is getting through loud and clear for me. This year’s budget has been the worst! I don’t know why they are so opposed to public input, but its kinda disgusting.
HUMAN SERVICES BUDGET LISTENING SESSION
At this point in the budget process, there was a hearing on the Human Services Budget. It’s always the week after Labor Day and you find out what the budget says just a few days before. So its a scramble at the end of the summer when everyone is focusing on the last hurrah with Labor Day weekend. At this point, we knew of the $95,000 to the Tenant Resource Center.
So, I did an on-line petition. They didn’t like that. WE had over 800 people sign a petition on-line or in person. (Thanks everyone!) That really made them mad because they got emails when people signed. That was just too much for them. And what really made them mad was that they couldn’t use that to collect info about their constituents so the could explain their position or just get info for their next campaigns because the petition didn’t include the person’s email addresses and just said Madison Wi. So, they were grumbling about it. Ok, I get it, no more on-line petitions, it just pisses them off, unless I find one that gives them the address and email address so they can benefit from it. Funny, it wasn’t the grumpy old men (no offense meant, I like the grumpy old men, as well as the movie) on the board that were doing the complaining, most of them told me they didn’t mind extra emails. Same with the true progressives on the board – the Progressive Dane folks.
Don’t have too many speakers
So, after getting grief about the petition I was a little worried and sought advice. I was specifically told not to have more than 10 speakers at the hearing. I have no idea how I’m supposed to control that. They wanted me to have people register and do something to show support, but they didn’t want to hear from people. This was a change, in the past they always told me that it was better to hear from people affected instead of advocates. To tell their stories about how services affect them. This time, they specifically wanted us to limit the speakers. We tried and were close to that number, however, we were totally overwhelmed by the DD Coalition and they probably hardly noticed our supporters. We had a decent amount of registrants in support but they just have so many more. (Thanks everyone!)
Don’t give us your hand outs
Because we were limiting our speakers, I was going to have several handouts and let them review the information I had. However, when I got there with 4 – 5 handouts, they announced that they didn’t want us to give them hand outs at the meeting. It would be too distracting for them.
Seriously? When I got up there, I was so frustrated I had to ask, you don’t want emails, you don’t want people to speak at meetings and you don’t want handouts, could you please tell me how you would like your input. Of course, it was a public hearing and they don’t have to answer my question and no one attempted to explain. A supe or two did let me know they thought that was all pretty ridiculous.
Good news is that Tenant Resource Center did get their funding back in the County Executive’s budget. So thank you to everyone who signed the petitions, showed up to the meetings and registered or spoke and who took the time send such wonderful emails to elected officials. It worked! It just made several of them really mad at me. Which several people keep telling me they have heard.
WEIRD MOMENT AT COUNTY BOARD MEETING
At the Oct 3rd county board meeting I was sitting off the side of the board, not in the media row, because I had registered to speak. I did, however, plug in my recorder in media row so I could get a direct feed on my audio recorder so that I could blog about it if needed. When I went up to speak, Carousel Bayrd stood up and objected to me speaking, this is what the minutes say:
Supervisor Bayrd objected to the testimony of Brenda Konkel due to the County Board rules on media. Moved by Supervisor Ferrell, seconded by Supervisor Richmond to suspend the rules to allow Brenda Konkel to testify. Motion carried unanimously.
I was shocked. Posted on facebook, then got yelled at for “attacking” her. Um, I was the one who was “attacked”. This is what I posted on Facebook:
Brenda Konkel: Can you believe that Carousel Andrea Bayrd wanted to object to me speaking before the county board tonight because I am recording the audio from the media row – but not sitting there because they won’t allow that when I also speak. And the freaking CONSERVATIVES on the county board made the motion to allow me to speak (thank you Ronn Ferrell) In case you didn’t notice, they get no media coverage. And then complain about it. There is one media person there. Is there any harm in me recording the audio and also speaking? Why would you try to prevent that? What is the public good that would be achieved?
Is that an “attack”?
To my surprise, she responded on my facebook page:
Carousel Andrea Bayrd: can you believe it?
there is a county board rule– if you are in the media section, you cannot testify before the county board that same evening. You know that rule– I’ve told you about it, a few months ago you were sitting back there and I asked you to move (I was chairing the meeting that night), and you did. So that was a good thing! Tonight, you were back there, so I called it into question and we SUSPENDED THE RULES (which I voted in SUPPORT OF) so that you could testify.
It’s me– Carousel Bayrd, who volunteered on your city council campaigns, has donated to TRC for the past 8 plus years, has volunteered at TRC, has supported homeless issues and tenant right’s issues since having the honor to serve on the county board for the past 8 years. And I worked my butt off today to construct a compromise that would pass the county board that would at least incorporate some of the HIC proposals.
you’re quick to make enemies, brenda. but i’m not your enemy. never have been, never will be. I appreciate your advocacy, I work hard too.
Keep on keeping on. Good night.
She got the county board rule wrong, which I will get to. I responded to the above with:
Brenda Konkel: Carousel Andrea Bayrd you are not my enemy. If you had a problem, why didn’t you say anything? I wasn’t sitting in the media row, I was using the electricity to plug in my recorder and I plugged the recorder in to the mic system so I could have the audio for my blog. I was not sitting in media row. I was sitting on the side with everyone else.
Brenda Konkel: 7.59 SEATING ARRANGEMENTS FOR BOARD MEETINGS.
(4) The two seats to the chairperson’s left on
the center aisle of the fifth row shall be reserved
for the county board’s staff. Remaining seats in
the fifth row to the chairperson’s left shall be
reserved for the news media. Access to media
seating shall not be available to the general
public, registered lobbyists, or individuals
registered to address the board in support of or
opposition to an item on the board calendar.
Brenda Konkel: I was not seated at any time. I never even set foot on into the area, I carefully plugged my recorder in standing to the side of the aisle.
Brenda Konkel: As far as I can tell, the remedy for this would have been to have the sargent at arms remove me from the seat – not restrict me from testifying.
We spoke after the meeting and on the phone the next day. I think we came to a bit of an understanding, Carousel has been working hard for the Dane County Housin Authority and other issues, but somehow in the end I was still the person who somehow did something wrong.
HEALTH AND HUMAN NEEDS PART I
Last week Health and Human Needs had a meeting with two items of interest. One was the transportation issues with bus passes and van that Porchlight is being given to drive people around. The other issue was the budget. They announced something, which you can hear in a moment, at the beginning of the meeting that those of us in the audience understood one way, but apparently was meant another way. They heard the presentations on the transportation issues and a there was little discussion or public comment, so I spoke because I was appalled that they didn’t address the elephant in the room that they made a motion, and the county board passed it that the van should run for a full year but Porchlight presented a plan that they would run it through March and be out of money (no surprises there! but not Porchlight’s fault, it was the ridiculous expectations set and used as an excuse about why bus passes wouldn’t work.) The motion also said that the van was supposed to meet “individual needs” but Schooler made it really clear they couldn’t do that. Again, not his fault, ridiculous expectations. However, the committee didn’t address any of these issues. They thanked him and he left. They said they did this because this was just a presentation and they couldn’t make any decisions. However, they even discussed that on the county board, Paul Rusk asked if they were “approving” the plan, or just hearing about it and they said the intent was for them to “approve” the plan. Video of that is here, about 1 hour, 11 minutes, 30 seconds in. Even worse, they gave Lynn Green the ability to sign the contract, which she says she is doing, even tho Schooler has to come back to the committee next week to get approval of the plan – the van will start on Monday anyways. It’s a bogus process. Anyways, I digress . . .
Since I had spoken to that issue, Jeremy Levin came up to me and told me I would not be able to speak to the budget items. He said that I had already spoken to them at the Alliant Energy Center, that they were restricting people to speaking once for three minutes (remember this when you read the ordinance below) and that I had already spoken at this meeting and I wasn’t going to be allowed to speak. I looked him in the eyes and said “that’s really shitty”. He said they had to draw the line somewhere. I was in a foul mood because of another issue at the meeting which I also posted on facebook:
Brenda Konkel: Sitting in yet another county meeting where they are talking about amendments that the public is here to talk about but there are no copies available for the public so we can see them and testify intelligently on them. Take heart tho, we can see them tomorrow morning.
Yeah, another issue, but I also posted about not being able to speak . . .
I’ve been sitting on the floor of this meeting for 2 hours and was just told that because I spoke about the budget at the Alliant Energy Center (about TRC funding) and could speak to the county board tomorrow night, that I would not be allowed to speak because I spoke to a different item on the agenda this evening. My response “that’s really shitty”. Who the hell makes these rules. I’m tired of county board supervisors not letting me, as a member of the public, speak to issues in the community. This is the second time this month where they are just making up rules.
27 mostly unflattering comments on that from my friends on facebook, but Chaous reposted what I said:
Chaous Thatcityworker Riddle: Really Melissa? Telling Brenda she couldnt speak on a different agenda item? You have the gall to say you support the first amendment and yet use gop tactics. Who woulda thunk it.
Melissa Sargent was the first to reply, she is the chair of the committee.
Melissa Sargent: Chaous, At the beginning of the meeting tonight we discussed the plan for all those registered for public speaking and I asked twice if there was anyone who had question or if there were concerns. I know that you had not arrived at this point but Brenda was there and at no point did she object or ask a question about the plan. Last I looked the GOP has not asked the public for input on the public testimony portion of a meeting. I do know Jeremy spoke with Brenda as soon as he noticed that there were 2 slips from her / at any point she could have asked to speak with me during or after the meeting. Forward.
Brenda Konkel Why were people limited to speaking once during the meeting? I understood that the first three transportation items were being combined, I did not understand that you could only speak once during the entire meeting. Jeremy told me one of the reasons I didn’t need to speak was because I already spoke at the Alliant Energy Center and I could speak tomorrow night (except I can’t) They were going to let Sarah Gillmore speak twice. The meeting was over in 3 hours . . . would 3 more minutes of testimony hurt anything?
Brenda Konkel And where are these rules written down?
Melissa Sargent I’m not sure what Jeremy said I was not there. Lots of people wanted extended time or multiple times. We didn’t let anyone speak twice or extend. A limit needed to be drawn. Sarah was a presenter of an agenda item. That is different. If you want to be on the agenda contact me as the chair let me know your topic. I’ll get you on. 10 min and questions. Happy to do it.
I was mad, so I posted the audio of what she said, and it was nothing close to what she said on facebook.
She then offered to meet with me in private, which is a favorite of politicians when they know they are wrong. I posted back:
Brenda Konkel: Melissa, this isn’t directed to you personally, it is a comment based on 20 years of advocacy. Face to face off the record conversations that take up my time have rarely resulted in anything being accomplished except making the person who publicly offers to meet in private look like they are reasonable.
Sigh . . . I’ve been doing this too long, and I just can’t take any more of this nicity-nice bullshit that politicians get away with all the time. They already hate me or love me and I’m not going to change that, so I have nothing left to lose.
Anyways, I was thinking that since I didn’t speak to the budget at that meeting I would just speak at the next one where they vote on the amendments the public hadn’t yet seen. By the way, I don’t know where they posted them. They are not here. Not here. Not here. (You can see the following amendments here ZLR, EANR, PWT, PP&J if you can figure out the alphabet soup)
HEALTH AND HUMAN NEEDS PART II
Last night – sigh, seriously – I have this all audio recorded should I need it . . . will try to post if I have time.
Before the meeting
When I walked in there were blue slips, but no agendas. People were asking me how to register. I told them to register to speak on the budget or register to speak on a specific item. There was a copy or two floating around the crowd and when I spotted one I told people to consult that. As I was standing there, Melissa Sargent was saying that they were not taking testimony on the budget tonight. Heidi Wegleitner said that she thought they were. Sargent called the county board chair to find out if she should restrict the public speaking. I didn’t really hear the end result of that, but registered to speak on items not on the agenda, and I spoke to the public process.
In a separate incident before the meeting Melissa handed the agenda and amendments out to the County Executive Staff and she had extra copies in her hand. I made a remark to the staff member that he was lucky to be one of the privileged few. Sargent got mad and said that there were copies available with the committee staff that she would hand out later. Of course, later in the meeting, she noted that they were out of copies and we should share. No copies were left to be handed out.
Public Comment – for items not on the agenda
When I spoke, I said that I thought it was incredibly unfair to people who were here to speak to amendments since we couldn’t see them at the last meeting and there aren’t copies available tonight again. I said that it was unfair that people were here, who had important things to say, that were being denied. I pointed out that people can’t follow their process, how would they know they couldn’t speak. When I was done speaking – she asked me to stay in my seat and wait for questions. There was one question. And then, a stern lecture. (I will post that audio by 10am)
Motion to let people speak
At this point she said people would not be able to speak. A few members of the public tried to express how terrible this was, she shut them down. There were at least 30 people there. When they got to the item Heidi Wegleitner made a motion to let people speak, Bob Salov (conservative) seconded. There was an amendment and discussion about who should be allowed to speak and ultimately, they didn’t let people speak. Well . . . the public couldn’t. But on several amendments, they asked questions of audience members – so if you were the Executive Director of an agency or worked for the District Attorney or County Executive, they all got to speak when they asked questions – but not the rest of us – not the homeless people who were there.
County Ordinance in question
The basis for not letting us speak is this county board rule from the “>Dane County Ordinances that apparently you are supposed to read in your free time and discover:
7.225 PUBLIC APPEARANCES AT COMMITTEE MEETINGS. (1) The agenda for each committee meeting shall contain an item titled public comment at which point on the agenda any member of the public shall be allowed to speak on any issue which is not on the agenda or, with the consent of the committee, any issue over which the committee has jurisdiction. Persons wishing to speak shall first file with the committee or its staff a form complying with s. 8.10. Copies of the form shall be made available at the meeting.
(2) The chairperson may limit the time for each speaker to 5 minutes, exclusive of time allotted to questioning by committee members.
(a) If a committee has taken testimony on an item and the same committee considers action on the item at a separate meeting, the public shall not have the opportunity to testify if that same item appears on subsequent agendas of the same committee.
(3) The limitations of this section shall not apply to county officials or employees as permitted by the committee.
[History: cr., 04/19/94; (1) am., OA 1, 2000-01, pub. 04/27/00; (2)(a) cr., OA 1, 2012-13, pub. 04/26/12.]
I think this is incredibly confusion as the following items appeared on their agendas and they allowed public input – up until they had actual amendments to vote on – when it really mattered. Then comment was denied.
Sept 3 – HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT 2014 BUDGET PROPOSAL OVERVIEW
Sept 18 - 2014 DEPARTMENT BUDGET PROPOSAL – DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION
Oct 2 – DISCUSSION OF COUNTY EXECUTIVE 2014 BUDGET PROPOSAL
Oct 16 – BUDGET PRIORITIES DISCUSSION
Oct 23 - 2014 BUDGET AMENDMENTS – DISCUSSION & ACTION
Oct 30 – 2014 BUDGET AMENDMENTS – DISCUSSION & ACTION
They might be technically correct on this one, but again, “that’s shitty”. Why doesn’t the agenda inform the public about this. Why can’t we know in advance? You’d have to know the rule, examine the agendas carefully and guess that they would follow that rule in order to understand what is going on. Sargent’s lecture to me said that this is the way they have always done it and she has made the process more transparent. I don’t think so, in the past, if only a few people showed up, they let them speak. Especially since programs were being cut – and the people there should have been able to speak. Well, they were. They asked them questions and let them speak. So why could they and not others?
After I spoke and they determined they wouldn’t let people speak, I ended up leaving the meeting to help a person who is without a home who had a stroke on Sunday and was released from the hospital yesterday and couldn’t go to shelter because he has body lice and couldn’t get a medical voucher from Salvation Army because he would have needed to do paperwork and no one was there to approve it. But I did record it and come back, but don’t know what happened after I left.
At least read our comments!
When I came back, at the end of the meeting, a member of the public asked if they would at least read the blue sheets that people were told to make comments on. They quickly adjourned and Sargent offered to talk to her after the meeting. After the meeting the person expressed concern that a 70 year old lady drove from Bellville? Belmont? to speak and was denied. The person said that they could have at least read the names of the person and what their comments were. They expressed that this was really disrespectful. I pointed out that the comments should have been read before they voted! Sargent said that they would put the comments in the minutes. Really? What good does that do? She did apologize for not reading the slips, she said she usually does, but they were moved off the table by Jeremy Levin and she forgot.
What the hell is going on? Is it as bad as it appears? Is it benign and inept?
Be clear, its not all, but some. But who it is is surprising – liberals.
Categories: | Dane | Madison | Media