What public input?
Last Friday I became aware of an event that occurred the day before on the UW–Platteville campus. Lt. Gov. Kleefisch and Secretary of Revenue Chandler held a forum to discuss tax reform. I’m generally pretty good about reading the local newspaper and listening to local radio stations so I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about the Walker administration representatives visit and forum. This was a topic I am interested in and would have liked to attend the forum.
I sent an email later that day to the lieutenant governor’s office asking how the event was publicized. I hadn’t received a reply by the following Wednesday afternoon so I called the lieutenant governor’s office. A friendly young man had an answer readily available as to how word was disseminated about these events.
He told me that they work with local groups and in this case he mentioned the local chamber of commerce, American Legion, Farm Bureau and Grant County Medical Society. He went on to say that they generally plan on having about 25 attendees and announce the events through these local groups to handle the RSVP process. Just to make sure I understood the process I asked the young man that if I were not attached to one of these groups, then I would not expect to be aware of the event in advance and he answered affirmatively that that was correct. Apparently the newspaper can’t be used in advance to notify the common public about the event, but there is no such problem using it to publicize the event after the fact.
One of The Journal’s front page stories, that goes on in great length to page 5A with pictures, is about the tax reform forum. The front-page picture is very telling. I would have anticipated this type of event to have a table at the front with three to four people, such as the two Walker representatives and possibly a moderator and an assistant. I would expect there would have been rows of chairs set up facing the front table where the public would sit and listen and/or participate. Instead what I see is a room set up with a limited number of seats in a large square. There’s lot of empty space in the center that would have accommodated row of seats and many more people.
Lt. Gov. Kleefisch is quoted in the article as saying, “We’re going to be asking everybody in the state of Wisconsin who pays taxes, including those who may be paying taxes — students — to contribute their thoughts.” This isn’t the first time the Walker administration has come to our area to “solicit” input supposedly from “everyone,” when in fact they cherry-pick their audience. If they want to meet with a select group of people they certainly have the right to do that, but I’d appreciate it if they didn’t misrepresent what they’re doing.
This dog-and-pony show, like many others they’ve held, is more politically motivated than genuine interest for community input. If 99 percent of the community isn’t even made aware of the event, it’s certainly hard for them to provide their viewpoints. Maybe The Journal should report back on the event only to the members of those local groups who were invited to attend. The rest of us really don’t need it.
5940 Stanton Road, Platteville
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