I went to Rep. Sandy Pasch's Town Hall meeting Monday night at the WFB Library. About 20 other constituents showed up as well.
Rep. Pasch began with a few minutes on the Wisconsin State Budget, then opened it up for 90 minutes of Q&A from the audience. Most of the conversation centered around the Budget, and generally speaking, most of the audience was unhappy. Unhappy with the new taxes, unhappy with the earmark pork projects, unhappy with the negative business climate (perceived or real).
While I shared the group's displeasure about the budget, it was something else that saddened me.
I met Whitefish Bay resident Sandy Pasch as she campaigned last year, and later voted for her. She was to be the new face that we selected to represent us in the 22nd district.
So I was disappointed to hear that our Rep. Pasch has morphed, in 6 short months, into a politician, full of the same partisanship that ruins our government. I have this odd, and clearly childish, perception that elected officials are representatives of their constituents.
My displeasure is based in what occurred in the past few weeks surrounding the budget. Rep. Pasch had the opportunity to vote on 175+ amendments. She voted against every single one, regardless of its content. I asked why. "Because they were Republican amendments," she answered, "The Republicans said none of them would vote for the budget as a whole."
That's a fantastic reason, isn't it, Wisconsin?
It didn't matter if the amendment was entitled "Whitefish Bay is the greatest village in all of Wisconsin." Rep. Pasch would have voted against it, since it came from the wrong side of the aisle.
During the Town Hall, a number of people expressed concern that the QEO would be repealed, forcing education spending (funded by property taxes) to increase wildly. Rep. Pasch agreed that repealing the QEO was not a good idea, without also fixing the educational funding formula.
So what happened, when Amendment #4 came up, removing the QEO repeal? Rep. Pasch voted against it. Why vote against something you support? Not because it was a bad idea, not because it was against the wishes of the 22nd district. Pasch voted against it because it came from the wrong side of the aisle, and she was following party orders.
When amendment #14 came up, asking for a cap on UW-System tuition, she voted against it.
When amendment #23 came up, hoping to re-instate 24-hour GPS surveillance of sex criminals (instead of once daily) .. she voted against it.
My favorite was #49, which disallowed early release of prisoners who FAILED TO REPORT TO JAIL. Can you imagine that? Early releasing a prisoner who is serving time for failing to report to jail? That's about a million percent logical, and should have been passed unanimously. Guess what? Pasch, and all the Democrats voted against it, and distinctly showed how egregious this process is.
When amendments were presented, removing increased garbage fees, cell phone taxes, oil company taxes, illegal immigrant driver licenses, illegal immigrant in-state tuition, domestic partner benefits .. Pasch voted to keep all of them .. although at least a few of those might be supported by the 22nd.
When these votes were taken, those Representatives stopped representing the interests of their districts. Instead, Pasch and all the other Democrats were representing their party and the deals of policy and pork they had worked out in secret.
And that's a shame. It's sad to see a new citizen representative become quickly indoctrinated into bitter partisanship.
Admittedly, Rep. Pasch is not singularly to blame .. all of the Madison legislators should damned for the same behavior, past and present.
But the only one I have any control over, is the person I voted for, the person I selected to represent me. That’s why I am writing this today. As citizens, we need to tell the people who represent us to stop this madness.
I realize it is naïve of me to think it could be any other way, but it is amazing how much lip service is given to "bipartisanship" when candidates are courting our votes, as Pasch did. That doesn't mean anything when it's your turn at bat, and you bail out.
"That's just the way things are done." It is until some individual puts a stop to it. It is until some legislator says "The way we do business is wrong, and I won't be a party to it."
The Assembly budget was passed with a razor thin margin. If only a couple of Democrats had stood up and said "enough -- we are going to work together" .. guess what.
They would have had to.
< /end tilting at windmills.>
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