City Council Recap (Some portions are VERY brief) – Part I

Posted February 8th, 2017 @ 7:25 AM by

It’s crowded – meeting starts off with President Mike Verveer telling people there is an overflow room for tonight and that there are interpreters here as well. Sorry, no time to proof read.

Quorum is present, rules are suspended. Honoring resolutions are read and passed.
Honoring Judy Wilcox – Mike Verveer says some very kind words, says the resolution does not do her justice because she was involved in so many things and asks for a moment of silence. Rummels says some kinds words too, calling her one of the most funny, smart, sarcastic women she knew.
National Flower Worker’s Day – Peopld from Columbia appear via Skype (I think this must be a first and there were only a few technical difficulties). Jack Long spoke while they figured things out – he’s the President of the Columbia Support Network and they have been involved in the flower workers issue and many of the flowers grown in Columbia come here. They only have the audio, no video. Lisa Taylor speaks from Columbia, she works with Witness for Peace. They work on the affects of US policy on Latin America – they eventually got the camera to work. One of the workers speaks to why the resolution is important, he speaks in Spanish and Lisa interprets. Their concerns for the workers include not getting compensated for the hard work, there is third party contracting and they can’t unionize. Samba reads the resolution and presents it to John after expressing condolences for the loss of his wife over the weekend.
Iranian Firefighters. Shiva Bidar reads the resolution, a member of the Iranian Community here in Madison speaks and thanks them for support and thanks all firefighters for their work.
And that took nearly 40 minutes.

Fabiola Hamden speaks in support of the resolution #23, she was born in Bolivia, but is a US Citizen. She thanks the council and mayor. She thanks the mayor for coming out with the press release immediately to make people feel welcome. She says we get too caught up in the language sometimes, we all have the same goal, to feel safe. We need to come together as a community. She talks about the resource guide they put together.

Every thing passes on the agenda with the following exceptions
4 – 20 are public hearing items
35 ($189,000 for flood proofing at Village on Park) and 36 – accepting a grant for Capital City Path are recorded as having unanimous votes.
85 is corrected to be $5,000 instead of $8,000
23 (city immigration resolution), 33 (MG&E resolution) and 74 (panhandling) are separated for discussion.

They take item 5 because there is someone here to answer questions and refer items 4 and 6 – 20. There is a substitute on item 5, they pass it without discussion.
Items 4 & 16 have speakers and are expected to take longer, so they move to go to item 23.

Verveer moves adoption, there are 17 speakers.

3 Hmong elders wanted to speak under early comment and they will go first.

There will be a substitute by Bidar after the speakers and Alder Baldeh has an amendment.

The Hmong woman is no happy that there is no interpreter and says that they are still refugees. Mayor looks confused and thought there were interpreters available. A woman who speaks English will try to interpret but there will be a loss because she is not a professional by training. The first woman says she has never been here before and she wants the council to consider policies for refugees like us. The most important part is to consider refugees as newcomers to ease their pain, people commit suicide when they have no place to go and can’t breathe. She is an example that when you are new and don’t know anyone and don’t know who to call, you think about nothing but taking your own life. For example now you have voted for Donald Trump as the new leader and that gives us alot of worry, anxiety and fear. Have an open heart and welcome people as newcomers, it will ease their anxiety. A second woman speaks asked them to also help refugees and newcomers, especially with their paperwork, especially the children who lose their paperwork. Please help and embrace us and love us, we are not citizens, we only have green cards and with the new president it gives us alot of fear. They ask that they help and protect people like us who have refugee citizen status. A third woman speaks. The third woman is too nervous to speak. Mai Xiong also speaks after interpreting. She thanks people who have been leaders who may not always see what happens on the ground. Madison has always been a welcoming place, in this difficult time we need more leaders to do this. She says she came here at 13, she says when you get thrown in the water and don’t know how to swim you either learn to float or you drown. When she was in dumped in high school at the age of 14 she learned to float, she did that because her father sacrificed so much. He lost his brothers trying to save the American pilots and she did not want to let him down, to start all over and prove to everyone that they come from a nation that thrives on hard working community relationships and thrives on new relationships. 13 people would embrace one pilot and we need to do that here and embrace refugees and new immigrants. That keeps us alive and growing and successful. The three barriers that make it so hard is the disorientation in a new place, my car got towed the first time I moved here and I was a nervous wreck and it make me doubt myself. Second is the language, when people laugh, we think they are laughing at us – that can be learned. The other is food. We grow up eating things and when we try new things they are awful. She talks about how her sponsor used to bring them chees bars and they didn’t like it and they hid it. One day the sponsor found it in the kitchen. Now that she is a Wisconsinite and likes cheese and knows how expensive cheese is she appreciates that. She talks about her mentor and then thanks them (I might have missed a little)

The mayor also reads off many of the names of people who here in support.

The speakers had alot of good things to say, I suggest watching the video, here are some of the many points:
– Kids are worried about losing DACA
– Adults are worried about losing their green cards.
– Kids do worse in school when they lose their parents to deportation or due to the fear of deportation.
– Former Alder Chris Schmidt says that this is the time to stand firm, this is worth the fight that may come. They may have backed off in the past, but now is the time. He wants them to keep fighting back hard. He is unhappy with the upset over the safe spaces language.
– People are upset over the fact that there wasn’t a Hmong interpreter for the women, and that is what this resolution calls for.
– We need create safe spaces and push back against exclusion. It’s important to reaffirm our past actions and beliefs that support people who come to our community.
– Families and children are afraid. They want to feel safety.
– People talk about having to carry passport when cross state lines and go on domestic flights.
– This language will help people feel just a little bit more safe.
– Equity implies that people get what they need, this is what we need, we need the city to take a risk and be explicit.
– They all love Wisconsin cheese.
– People talk about anxiety and confusion in the community.
– People were glad to see change in policy from Chief Koval in not cooperating.
– People ask them to take a stand.ced and how that impacts them.
– Many people talked about their personal experien
– My observation is that there are alot of professors and students from UW supporting this resolution, more than I expected.
– Lots of discussion about traumas people have faces, being undocumented and how that affects them.
– People also talked about racial profiling.
– They talk about not having a license and how that impacts them when they don’t have an id and not being able to drive.

Sorry, I didn’t feel up quickly blogging all the emotional testimony, I really wanted to just listen. It’s worth it to watch it for yourself. We are now 2 hours into the meeting. Its interesting, usually when people clap, they get chastised, but not tonight. And its interesting that Koval isn’t slamming his fist on the desk demanding decorum.

Everyone was in support of the resolution, no one was against. There are at least 50 additional names in support in addition to the ones the mayor read. They circulating the pages of registrations. There are no questions of any of the speakers.

Somehow Mark Clear is the first to speak now. He says that he is proud of the community and recognizes the sacrifices and risks people took to get here tonight. He says he hasn’t felt like this since Walker “dropped the bomb”, and the council passed extensions to the union contracts in brazen defiance and this has a very similar feel. He encourages people who have amendments on technicalities to think about if they are not united tonight and what kind of message that will send.

Shiva Bidar moves a substitute. She thanks people for being here, this is her community and the reason she put herself in this position so we can stand up and say we did the right thing. She says she will make sure they use all their power for positive change. She wants to clarify items. Some people have said this is just symbolic, it means something to real people to have people sit in these chambers and say that they stand with people, that makes people feel safe. She has friends who have asked her if she has a safety plan, she spends alot of time doing a safety plan for others, but maybe it is time for her to make her own safety plan. This is the time to stand together and strong. She thanks Alder Baldeh for the event 2 Sunday’s ago to bring us together, but she also wants them to know she has been working on this memo for a long time. She says they all have the memo from before somebody else’s president. This condemns the president’s actions, but this resolution does three really important things. It stands behind Chief Koval’s policies and she thanks Chief Koval for his re-written policies, she says it is significantly different for immigrants. It also codifies what city staff can and cannot do. She says that was not previous policy. The third and last is the safe place. She intended this to have a safe place, its a mental health concept, it is where you feel welcome and protected, not legal protection. You can read a 3 page interpretation of the word “safe” or you can think of it more commonly – that people will feel safe and not discriminated against. She wants in this building to be a place. She says that she spent 10 minutes trying to help a Spanish speaking family that wanted to pay their ticket. Its not always easy to find your way in this building. That there would be access to interpreter services, yes we are supposed to have 24/7 access to interpreters, that is the reality of any large organization – there is failure on a daily basis for someone to do the right thing at the right time. If she hadn’t spoken Spanish when she rant into that family, she would have at least known to take them to the office for interpreter services. She talks about the flyer, and she knows people want it to be everywhere, but usually that means no where. Finally, lets say there is an immigration officer in the building, they don’t come guns blazing unless they are doing raids (in California it is different) if you tell them they need to make a phone call, they allow that. She says that calling this population vulnerable does not recognize the resilience of the community. That does not give them enough credit, they won’t be mislead or not be unthoughtful. She thanks the mayor and his staff. She feels proud that they will support the majority of the resolution and she is proud that we will stand up together and this was to galvanize people. She says many of us will be there for the other fights at the state level that are coming. We are a proud city, a sanctuary city.

Marsha Rummel says that after Trump was elected there were lots of requests to become a sanctuary city, she said she would support it immediately and while there might be tweaks to the language, she is proud to support it. She thanks Koval as well. We are still in Madison, we are not in control of everything, so we still need to work with the Sheriff and other law enforcement communities so we are all on the same page. She urges people to think about what we can do together to extend this beyond Madison. She says that we had “Sanctuary-lite” in the past, and the definition of sanctuary is not really ours, it will be up to other above us. She hopes it will be unanimous.

Samba Baldeh wants to make an amendment. Gruber is asking for a clarification of which substitute is in front of them. She says it would be that of the sponsor, anything else would be an alternate. She says it is the one she shared on Friday. Baldeh’s amendment to replace the Bidar language from the Council Office to public libraries. Baldeh says that there is alot of fear in the community. He immigrated here 18 years ago, he went through all the stages, from being documented, to undocumented to documented again. This is the right thing to do, we want to be there for people in our community, but some of us live it. He wants everyone to be included. He thought the resolution is excellent, but he wanted to include more people, he was originally thinking that we have 200+ parks and other facilities and he wanted to make all the parks and city buildings be designated as a safe place, but now this is what we have, and we have lots of battles to fight, in weeks, moths and years and we don’t know when this will end, we don’t know when this will be over. He is black, he talks about being pulled over – he says this is real. He speaks 5 languages and interprets for hospitals, and he lives the immigrant life. He wants, for the sake of unity, that they will adopt the amendment to what Shiva has. We have libraries across the city, they are within walking distance. No one will know where room 417 is, and it is often locked, libraries are open half the time, he hopes this will get support. Seems like people are on board with the resolution and this will give more access to services.

Matt Phair asks if they could add the language instead of striking the council office, so it would be AND. Baldeh says the issues is the facilities are not adequate for when they add staff. He wants more opportunities. He would prefer all city buildings be added, but he doesn’t think we have the capacity, he doesn’t want to add it though. Phair seems like we should have the symbolic place here in the building, the library seems like a fine idea, he wonders if they have talked to library staff, and the City Attorney indicates they have. He says that they all share the values of the merits of the resolution. He feels the need to say something about leadership – he says a good leader recognizes the credibility of what has come forward and just lets it go, stands in the back and supports it. We have something that is ready to go, and solid and he doesn’t want to spend time on this. We should just stand together and show the community, state and country that we are united.

Denise DeMarb asks if there is a second amendment. Confusion . . . DeMarb wants to move the previous question and force a vote on the Baldeh amendment. Needs a 2/3 vote and is not debatable. Verveer says it seems like there is a 2/3 vote, but there were a couple no votes. Cheeks calls a point of order – Ahrens was trying to ask a question and disrupting things but he sits down. The amendment fails. The mayor takes back the chair. There was no roll call vote on that, so I don’t know who voted which way. Mayor calls on Barbara McKinney, McKinney yields to Bidar.

Bidar moves to add libraries to her substitute instead of replacing city council office with the libraries. She says that it is important to have a space in this building. She knows that the council office knows how to use the interpreter services and she says everyone should call the libraries and make sure they know how to do it. She says that the flyers she printed with her council account and hopes someone will pay to print more for the libraries. She reminds them that the day without latinos is Feb 13th and she says the rest of the fight will be with the state and she hopes to see people there.

DeMarb thanks Bidar for doing what she was going to do, she thinks it is important to have a safe space here too. We need to show solidarity and she thanks Baldeh for adding the libraries. She also thanks the people who came out tonight. She thanks people for sharing their stories and thanks Bidar for her leadership and courage.

Baldeh says that he is glad they added libraries. He says that from the testimonials people think this is a place where people can go get services, he says you can’t get those services there, he say it is not this room.

Maurice Cheeks says this is not symbolism, this is the resistance. He thanks Bidar and colleagues who have been positive and those who cam out tonight. He says we should be bold, not hesitate. This is the fight, this is what leadership looks like. He says alder work is quiet in the background and requires compromise and its hard work, but he’s proud to do it.

Barbara McKinney says this has been an incredible night, it was also incredible 2 Sunday’s ago to see 2500 people come out. Over the last few weeks, there has been such an expression of drawing people together instead of being devisive, there is a tremendous ground swell of people standing together. When we talk about privilege, its normally white privilege. If you have a passport in your hand, you have privilege, tonight she is a brown person with privilege where she can move around freely without fear. It reminds her about slavery. When she heard people talk about their fear, it pushed her back to remember when her people were oppressed and I would have wanted someone to stand up for us and say this is not right. She applauds both of her colleagues because they live it and understand it and she asks her colleagues to say that collaboratively we agree that our brothers and sisters are not alone, we need to say we stand as one, this is not sausage and we are not going to make it so, she is going to call the question and asks for a roll call. She wants to support the combination of both.

Hall, Soglin and Eskrich want to speak on the Bidar amendment to the Bidar substitute. Even tho McKinney called the question, she did not do it in the beginning and she agrees to let the rest speak.

Amanda Hall says she is a proud coach and it occurred that many of the kids are immigrants and she asked the kids to come and speak. She realized that transportation was going to be an issue, and none of them made it, but she takes the vote for them tonight. She says that the gallery was extremely full when she walked in and she took a moment to look around – and hopefully she was welcoming and not creepy and she heard 4 different languages being spoken and she was proud and she welcomes everyone to their city chambers.

Mayor Paul Soglin says many people spoke from the hear and of their experiences and that is what he is going to do tonight. For over 50 years he has been involved in social and political movements, he has been arrested, beaten and tear gassed and he watched the tragedy of those movements collapse under what is bold – when people spoke about the superiority of the militancy, peaceful groups would be sabotaged by a few who provoked the police. The key is not militancy or boldness, the key is having a strategy that takes us beyond resistance to building a successful movement that is going to change so we are not on the defensive. The resolution before us as amended accomplishes that, it might seem like a subtle difference, but it allows us to maintain the nature of what we intend to do without creating a set back or opportunity for someone else to unduly inflict harm or pain on us. Three weeks ago, over 100 cities gathered and reaffirmed their commitment to sanctuary. A commitment pretty much embodied in this resolution, and the beauty is that we are the ones within the law, protecting the constitution and what is valuable in this nation. We are with in the law when we insist that any inquiry be addressed to the city attorney office. We are within the law when we make a commitment to not self initiate contact or detain individuals and we are within the law with this resolution as amended. There are some of the 100 or more cities who have fallen by the wayside. Miami has, most of the cities in Texas has, after what happened to Austin. Austin is the first city to feel the ramifications. The governor has the ability to take millions of dollars away from that city. There are a collection of cities who are in constant contact formulating strategies at the federal level to combat the executive orders and whatever congress will do. He and Attorney May have been in touch with Austin. There are a handful of cities that are at risk from the state and federal government and the ability of the state to punish us is much greater than the federal government and he is working with other cities to figure out what we will do it Ohio, S Carolina and Wisconsin demand retribution. Our goal is to simultaneously maintain our commitment in terms of what is embodied in the revolution and at the same time not take any unnecessary risks because if you think of the loss of revenue to our community it will always be the most vulnerable that will be hurt the most. When there are two paths, one path is to maintain those principles and minimize risk and the other is to maintain principles and maximize or increase risk, he finds it incumbent to share that with you and to see if we cannot find a way to maintain the principles, because no matter what happens in the coming weeks and months and years that this goes on, we are going to be a sister to Austin Texas, not Miami.

Sheri Carter thanks everyone who came, she says on January 22nd, the synergy and energy to take action together was monumental. She talks about the underground railroad and the good people in Wisconsin that put their lives on the line to get slaves to Canada. The good people of California who supported people in the camps in 1940. Father Groppe here in Wisconsin, when her parents cam where it was red-lined and they couldn’t buy a house, they had to have someone of another race buy the house for them. In 1964 in Mississippi 4 students were killed. It is ordinary people who come together to fight the injustices of this the world. On January 22nd, right over there at Monona Terrace, all of us stood there to say we are going to do something and tonight with this resolution, its the beginning, not the end, the fight goes on. In the words of her favorite person, Ted Kennedy, with hair, he said in 1980 and repeated it in 2008,
“For all those whose cares we have our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Sara Eskrich says she has been in and out of the queue all night, she has never been more aware of her privilege so she is just listening tonight, so she is just going to vote tonight.

Tim Gruber says it was really evident that the policies that they make impact ral people and affect humanity. He thanks council staff for being supportive and he is sorry they were not consulted right away. He is glad the libraries were added. He says he talked to a little girl in his class that speaks Arabic and he asked her about it the other day. He says we have to look at the struggles of th past and those are the struggles of the future and he wants to think about what kind of a city we will leave for our kids – a welcoming and inclusive city.

McKinney calls the question, some people who wanted to speak object, the motion fails.

Zach Wood thanks all the students who came out and were open about their status and he is in awe of their courage and determination. That is incredible to him, he hopes we keep that with us as we move forward.

David Ahrens passes.

Larry Palm says the passion and engagement is what will preserve us for the next 4 years. The dedication, he is overwhelmed by the people who came tonight and by those who were at the United We Stand forum. He says he knows it can be frustrating that these issues are paramount to some people and it hard to be screaming into the wind and not feeling like people are listening or that you ahve a voice or are a part of the community. That somehow someone has chosen to relegate people to the sidelines, that is why we need to be deliberative about bringing people into our community. There are so many ways we can continue to improve the access our our government, he thanks them and applauds them for being here. Our work is just a small part of the continuum of effort that we are going to have to sustain for many years, everyone needs to remember to take care of themselves and others, when you are up, be available to those who are down and when you are down, reach out to others.

Steve King says beyond the feel goodness of this, he finds it ironic that the state is so hostile to the only place in the state driving the economy of the state. He says that the Rise of the Creative Class book talks about talent, technology and tolerance – some communities are in states that also understand it. We aren’t. So, he thinks there is another dimension to consider, this is good for our economy, in spite of what our state might think.

The Mayor says that no one called on the chief for any questions and that means that we are in complete understanding on the matter, he suggests that we read The Politics of Resentment by Professor Cramer. The chief holds up two fingers in a peace sign.

There is a roll call vote – its all ayes.

People are clapping and cheering, but they still have to vote two more times. They have another roll call vote. STill all aye’s or in some cases si’s.

5 minute recess.

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