Every couple of years a news report will show a legislative body of one type or another where complete and utter chaos has overtaken the proceedings. Shouts will be heard, angry faces will be seen, and decorum thrown out the window. When we see those news accounts from around the globe we smile and think how silly it looks and how much better we are at maintaining discipline in our governing process.
One can no longer think like that following the most incredible and shocking display of disorder which occurred during last night’s Dane County Board of Supervisors meeting. It was more than just differing opinions about a local matter. It was anarchy on full display by anarchists.
At the center of the dispute over the count budget proposal was a $76 million project to build a consolidated jail facility on top of the Public Safety Building. The board voted to pass its $538 million operating budget by a 32 to 3 vote and a more than $112 million capital budget by a 31 to 4 vote.
But after protesters gathered to show the board they do not support the jail matter they chanted and roared for about 40 minutes straight while the board proceeded with the vote. Chants included “shut it down,” “derail the jail” and more, drowning out the meeting.
It was simply the most outrageous display by a very rowdy group which I have ever seen at a meeting of this type in my lifetime. Utterly disgusting. (Having worked as a reporter while covering the Door County Board I can only say it is lucky someone did not open a fire hose on the motley crowd and clean the place out.)
To hear some of the protesters interviewed one might conclude that all crime is predicated on the idea that mental illness or a lack of jobs motivates people to break into cars, shoot people they do not like, and sell drugs as others do sweet corn. That is a most flawed notion as there are truly mean and bad people who act out in ways that violate social norms. The consequence of such actions can lead to jail time.
The average citizen of this county is able to grasp that fact. The shouters and abusers of open government last night chose not to.
The ones who shouted and made asses of themselves have no real desire to work at change or be productive about their goals. They have the right to use the power of elections to put forth their platform and take it to the voters. But they know there is no stomach from the electorate for the opening of jails and the rewarding of anti-social behaviors.
Talk to people in the areas where crime is higher then most places and ask if they agree with the anarchists. People who live in these areas want police protection and also speak about wanting to get the bad element off of their streets.
So who then are those who showed up the meeting to shout and make their parents so proud? These are not people who wish to work within the system and be held accountable for their actions. The people who made the news last night are simply desiring to sow the seeds of frustration and work to undermine the workings of government. These are the same ones who want to end police patrols in neighborhoods or see racial motives for every action taken by those in power.
Those we saw last night on the late news are not the ones who volunteer to be a Big Brother or Big Sister. They are not signed up with Literacy Council to assist someone who wishes to read or master the English language.
What we saw last night were anarchists who desire only to rip apart and destroy our political processes.
In one of the sweetest displays of democracy the county supervisors continued to work, vote and proceed with the business we elected them to do. In the face of pure anarchy our local government did the business of the people.