Kendall’s gag rule
The gag rule — not permitting questions or discussion — came to the fore during our sixth U.S. President’s tenure in the House of Representatives. John Quincy Adams opposed this measure, applied after petitions on abolishing slavery became an issue.
We have the same kind of government in the Town of Kendall. An unofficial gag rule has been in effect since chairman Micah Bahr began his second term, which also combined an appointed position of clerk/treasurer.
Only one of the past agendas has allowed “public comment,” limited to three minutes. Residents who wish to address a township issue must ask the chairman to be on the agenda. This is subject to the good graces of the chairman, who may or may not allow the request.
Questions or comments on how the town government spends taxpayer funds or conducts business are firmly discouraged. The chairman may become angry or defensive; he sometimes bangs his gavel to silence those who dare to raise questions. In fact, his own words to the township taxpayers, at the Aug. 12 meeting, were: “Your part is to sit there and be quiet.” In desperation, residents have tried to interject questions but may be silenced with a gavel banged down on the table. One resident was told to “shut up” at that same meeting.
Our town officials, when sworn into office, vow to uphold the Constitution, in which the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech.
Adams, after an eight-year battle, won the fight for open, free discussion and debate when the gag rule was rescinded in 1845. Question: How long will Town of Kendall residents endure having their freedom compromised?
The air was filled with passion and democracy in that packed meeting room Aug. 22 as over 50 concerned citizens spoke out at the special meeting of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board to decide the fate of permits to mine frac sand within the Riverway (see Southwest Journal, page 6A).
Aside from Pattison’s lawyers, employees, and the landowners leasing their mineral rights to Pattison, every single voice spoke out against approving the permits. And, incredibly, it worked! To see Riverway board officials truly listen and respond to heartfelt concerns of Wisconsin citizens and stick up for the intent and spirit of the law gave me chills. Thank you, Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board, for your courage.
But as we pat ourselves on the backs on this success, let us remain focused on the struggles to come. After all, there are thousands of acres of beautiful Driftless hills and bluffs that are being and will be strip-mined away.
Crawford Stewardship Project has launched a lawsuit to challenge the rest of the mine, but we’re low on funds and don’t know what will happen next, so there may still be a large sand mine in Bridgeport exporting our hills. Let us keep our friends and neighbors engaged in the conversation and action that could shape what our region looks like generations from now. We must be vigilant, or those who see our land as prime for “development” and short term profits will gobble up what little of our wild places, trout-streams, and family farms remain intact.
Coordinator of Crawford Stewardship Project
We wish to respond to the hospitality of our great town of Platteville.
We had a wedding last weekend with many families traveling from Minnesota and Iowa. Everyone was amazed at our beautiful landscapes and the hospitality of our town and neighboring towns. We recommended restaurants in our area. All of the visitors were impressed with The Owl Cafe, Reds at the golf course, Rebels Northern Exposure, Country Kitchen, and the Castle Rock Inn. They will definitely return to Platteville.
We personally know how special the town of Platteville is to us!
E.J. and Cathy Skaife
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