I posted some emails - - some about lobbyists here and another about talk radio here - - obtained through Open Records about a period a few weeks ago when Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald a) seized control of the fate of proposed mining legislation, b) got his caucus to endorse an already-approved-and-blatantly-pro-industry Assembly mining bill and c) cancelled the work of a special Senate committee he'd created before it could advance an alternative that neither he or mining lobbyists favored.
The mining issue has been hot in Wisconsin for months, and really began to get the public's attention when the Assembly released its bill without sponsors, then quickly set up a hearing in Milwaukee on short notice - - forcing people who lived up North hundreds of miles away to arrange transportation and make a long trek during the workday in order to testify.
In other words, the convenience to citizens was not the Assembly's first priority - - and though it grudgingly held a hearing closer in Hurley to the most-affected area - - the special Senate committee, before Fitzgerald stepped in and cancelled it, was again setting up an inconvenient hearing, this time in Platteville, in the southwest corner of the state and even further from the probable mine site.
So I was struck by this section of an email to his colleagues on February 10th, four days before the Platteville hearing that never was, and the bureaucratic distance to which State Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn), had already to make sure the needs of legislators and staffers were being addressed.
Maybe it's standard protocol, but in an era of high gas prices and unemployment, what a slap at regular citizens who are forced to chase after three minutes of speaking time at disparate hearings wherever legislators' deign to schedule them, and then shell out again with their tax payments to a Legislature that has comprehensive procedures and accounts to cover their members and staffers attendance at these same hearings.
From the memo, in part:
From: Senator KedzieSubject: Senate Mining Jobs Committee - hold date
Sent: Friday, February 10th, 2012 4:53 PM
We are making arrangements through the Senate Chief Clerk's office and Senate Sergeant-At-Arms for transportation and reimbursement of costs for committee members, support staff, and one staff person for each member. Reimbursement of any and all costs will be covered through Senate member office accounts, which we will be requiring approval of from the Senate Organization Committee. You are not required to make similar request of Senate Org., but should contact the Senate Chief Clerk's office ahead of time with the name of the staff member who will be staffing the hearing.