Stalemate continues as citizens, congressman denied access to the Capitol
In what State Rep. Janet Bewley of Ashland is calling it a tragic comedy, the state Capitol Building remains in a lock down of sorts. She says her constituents get wanded by a security guard at a metal detector, identified and then have a police ...
In what State Rep. Janet Bewley of Ashland is calling it a tragic comedy, the state Capitol Building remains in a lock down of sorts. She says her constituents get wanded by a security guard at a metal detector, identified and then have a police escort just to get to her office.
Fellow Democratic Rep. Nick Milroy of South Range says he's never seen anything like it.
"It's almost impossible to get in this building. Even as a legislator, I have to use a certain entrance, you have to have an ID on you, I mean it feels like I'm in a police state."
He says constituents traveling from his Superior district couldn't get in to see him, so Wednesday afternoon Milroy and four other Democratic legislators -- Fred Clark, Cory Mason and Josh Zepnick --decided to do something about it. They moved their desks outside the building amidst the protesters. Milroy says he can do business just fine from there.
"I can. I actually have my telephone out on my windowsill and I have a desk out here and my computer. I'm able to speak to constituents so it's actually working a lot better than sitting in my office where people didn't have access to my front door."
Milroy says he's comfortable in the 21-degree temperature with a hat, mittens and nice warm winter jacket.
But Milroy's constituents weren't alone, standing outside the Capitol.
A 42-year member of the House of Representatives who started his career in the Wisconsin Legislature couldn't get in either.
"For them to only allow a handful of people in at a time, that's like doling out a little piece of democracy a little bit at a time," former Congressman Dave Obey told a television reporter outside the Capitol when he was denied access to the people's building. "It's a joke. I would like to know whether someone here saying we can't come in will ask the governor personally, right now, if he will allow these people in on their own schedule instead of his."
Minority Leader Peter Barca, who went outside to talk to the former congressman, posted a video on YouTube.
Meanwhile, State Senator Bob Jauch returned to Wisconsin briefly on Monday. Talking to us today somewhere from self-imposed exile in northern Illinois, Jauch says he and fellow Democratic State Senator Tim Cullen met secretly with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in Kenosha.
"We made an effort that doesn't seem to have materialized to anything but I trusted him. I didn't expect he would bring down the State Patrol to arrest us. It was a matter of faith between three of us who are trying to see what we can do."
Jauch says finding a compromise gets harder when politicians stake their positions in the national limelight. He says that's the case with Gov. Scott Walker.
"I've been staying away from MSNBC and national interviews, but he's (Walker) been going on Fox and he's the darling of the right-wing media. So he's carrying their banner and some of his staff see the possibility of Vice President Walker and they're star struck."
Jauch wouldn't say what they talked about but did say he wanted to see if "anything would stick." He says nothing did.
He says they have no plans to return to Wisconsin until a compromise is reached over the budget repair bill that would eliminate most collective bargaining by public employees.
Superior Telegram editor Shelley Nelson contributed to this report.