The budget "hearings" | WisCommunity

The budget "hearings"

The cheddarsphere has been full of discussion about whether the Republican administration is listening to Wisconsinites. The belief that nobody is listening has manifested itself in various ways from the protests in the capitol to various events all over the state.

The  Republicans have been saying that they indeed are listening, that the budget repair bill had a long hearing, and that they are going to ignore the few miscreants who disagree with them in favor of the very slim majority of the state that put Scott Walker in office.

If they don't want people to complain that they're not listening, why do they keep doing things like the scheduling fiasco of the Joint Finance Committee Budget Hearings?  What's wrong with the hearings?

  • Only four hearings were scheduled, which is fewer than in years past, and guaranteed to make it more difficult for constituents to get to the meetings.
  • They're carefully scheduled only during businesst hours - very convenient for the legislators, pretty darn inconvenient for people with jobs that they have to go to.  Attempts to stretch them out into the evening hours have caused
  • Many of the original hearings were scheduled in odd places.  Arcadia?  Minong?  Of course, in both of those cases the original venues backed out, and many of us have been struggling to keep up with the rescheduled hearings.  The oddest of all of these is the western Wisconsin hearing which was moved from Arcadia to Neenah -- an interesting drive for those of us in the western part of the state. 
  • Things were so bad with that that our local Democrats had to schedule two western Wisconsin listening sessions just so that people would be able to be heard from our end of the state (it's bad enough that Minnesota thinks we're part of their state, but I'd like to think that Wisconsin still remembers we're here). Of course, no Republicans came to these hearings   I attended the hearing in Eau Claire on Saturday and registered to speak.  There was a reasonably good turnout, with quite a few speakers.  We were only heard by Democratic legislators who had come in from around the state, but at least someone was listening to us.
  • The hearings have by and large consisted of huge numbers of people speaking out against provisions of the Walker budget, with very few in support.  One of the legislators was heard to say that he was "tired of the whining" from his constituents. Listening indeed.
  • The shindig today in West Allis today greeted attendees with a like cell phones, cameras, laptops, etc. I'm amazed they weren't searching bags for pens and trying to erase the attendees memories as they left (but we don't have technology for that - I don't htink).
  • After all of that, I'm half surprised the committee members at the hearings were not sticking their fingers in their ears and singing "la-la-la, I can't hear you". 

Public hearings need to be easy to attend and give the impression that someone actually cares about what the public has to say.  The current administration is failing the listening test, and failing it miserably.


April 11, 2011 - 12:27pm