Jul 27, 2013

Former Madison Mayor Distorts Fed Judge's Ruling; Sides with Scott Walker Again

Photo taken Friday at capitol. By Overpass Light Brigade
As combined police forces acting under Scott Walker's orders attempt to halt speech based on anti-Walker content, former Mayor Madison David J. Cieslewicz (2003 to 2011) has apparently gone off the rails and is now supporting Walker in the latest unconstitutional crackdown this week.

As Walker has literally taken over the state of Wisconsin and turned our state into what Esquire's Charles Pierce aptly termed, "Wisconsin Inc.," Cieslewicz—ever the ambitious if not coherent politician—has decided again to employ the false equivalence fallacy.

Everyone just needs to let Scott Walker continue his work and "move on with their lives," Cieslewicz intones.

Strange conception of democracy. But yes, this is what David Cieslewicz writes in his Thursday column in the Isthmus.

The first reader commenting, Bill Dunn, writes for many, concluding: "At times, but not all the time, Dave is merely annoying. The above [column of Cieslewicz'] is merely pathetic, with a unhealthy dash of clueless."

Police manhandle frightened boy Photo: Dawn Henke
Why citizens redressing their government as corrupt and dangerous is regarded by Scott Walker as being "unreasonable" is mystifying.

But this is not the first time Cieslewicz has veered deeply into incoherency.

Getting back to Cieslewicz, a former Cieslewicz supporter has grown disgusted and speaks for many in her column, reprinted below.

This is Karen Bassler's response to former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's  recent column  in The Isthmus about the arrests of peaceful singers at the Wisconsin State Capitol.


I can no longer refer to you as Mayor Dave, or Citizen Dave, though up until yesterday I had been using both interchangeable.

I’ve been your biggest fan up until yesterday. I’d praise you to the skies, laud your vision for urban areas, your happy-go-lucky attitude, your non-confrontational style of governing. If I heard anyone maligning you, I’d be the first to lead to your defense: “That’s not the Dave *I* know!”

You had me at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin. You had me with your wit and wisdom and can-do approach. You had me in your honesty and forthrightness.

But you lost me on the Sing Along.

I’ve been a part-time participant in the Singalong since the first days it sprang to life. While I freely admit I cannot carry a tune, the mass of voices singing together in irrepressible strength always sends a shiver down my spine, no matter how terrible the marble of the Capitol acts as a sound chamber. “We shall not be moved.”

The people singing are not how you seem to see them, Dave. They are retirees, city and state employees, union workers, students, regular schmoes and long-time activists. They are east-siders and west-siders and north-siders. They represent what is best about this city and this state.

We are not people who need to “get on with” our lives. Our lives are intertwined with our love of Wisconsin’s proud progressive tradition, and we are fighting to keep that alive, so that our lives can go on, too.

We are not a bunch of stinky hippies (in fact, the hippie-to-ordinary-citizen ratio is strikingly low). We are state patriots, who see our history and tradition of open government being trampled and destroyed willy-nilly, and who will not stand idly by and let that happen. We are testifying in public that whatever rules or laws or under the table payments may be made by Walker and his fellow Koch-owned legislators, we honor the greater good, the importance of government by the people, for the people. We are those who sob to see what made us proud to call Wisconsin home is now openly mocked and cast aside by people in power for the moment.

We will not apply for a permit because the Capitol has always been an open forum, free for anyone to come and speak their piece, and we will not kowtow to a frightened governor demanding order.

You are correct that the Capitol is a public space, but you are so wrong in saying that we dominate it at the expense of others. One hour a day, 4 days a week (Friday Singalongs are held outside, regardless of weather) is not too much time to spend articulating our belief in the traditions of open, progressive, involved government. (Actually, it is somewhat less than one hour a day, four days a week — if another group has a permit to use the rotunda, we take it outside.)

You lost me Dave, as you pontificated from your comfy home about people you don’t know. Come out and meet us and see why we sing, and maybe I will be able to forgive you. But right now, from where I sit, you have outed yourself as a complacent tool.

I used to admire you.

I don’t any more.


PS: I can tell you haven’t really heard us when you say that we sing "old protest songs." Over half the song catalog is made up of new tunes written by outraged Wisconsinites.
Statement from the Madison, Wisconsin Lawyers Guild: State Distorts Court’s Ruling to Justify Dissident Arrests

To understand why mass arrests are illegal, an understanding that eludes Cieslewicz, consider the Statement from the Madison, Wisconsin Lawyers Guild: State Distorts Court’s Ruling to Justify Dissident Arrests.

So, whatever job Cieslewicz is angling for, a possible Walker appointee perhaps, he ought to consider what Madison citizens and civil libertarians are writing, viz:

An injunction was issued because the court determined that the permitting scheme was improperly content-based and overly broad, and that the plaintiff Michael Kissick had shown a likelihood of success in his case against (DoA Sec Michael Huebsch and (Chief David Erwin. One of Kissick’s attorneys, Larry Dupuis of the A.C.L.U. of Wisconsin, issued a press release condemning the misrepresentation of Judge Conley’s ruling by Secretary Huebsch and the DOA’s media handlers

MADISON, WI – Citizens singing traditional civil rights songs, some with lyrics rewritten to criticize the current governor and state legislative priorities, were again subjected to mass arrest in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda July 24 and July 25. After U.S. District Court Judge William Conley issued an injunction against enforcement of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and Capitol Access policies on July 8, the Wisconsin Department of Administration tried to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in their ongoing campaign to stifle voices of dissent in the Capitol. Twenty three people were arrested Wednesday, and another twenty or so on Thursday, some more than once, while hundreds sang along or looked on, including a number of Democratic state legislators.

Dept. of Administration Secretary Michael Huebsch, announcing the impending arrests on Wednesday, which included two people aged 80 and over and two journalists, claimed that the state was “enforcing” Judge Conley’s ruling, as if the judge had directed arrests. The decision issued in the lawsuit filed against Huebsch and Capitol Police Chief David Erwin did not direct arrests. Nor did it find that the state’s permitting scheme was constitutional, despite such claims by DOA spokesperson Stephanie Marquise.

“Rather than impose a blanket prohibition on enforcing the existing permitting scheme, however, the court will preliminarily enjoin defendants from (1) distinguishing based on the content of the speech between “rallies” and other events for permitting purposes inside the Capitol and (2) enforcing the permit requirement for gatherings expected to draw 20 or fewer persons inside the Capitol rotunda itself. Of course, nothing in this decision prohibits enforcement of existing laws and regulations that restrict disruptive noise or other disorderly conduct,” wrote Judge Conley granting the injunction against enforcement of the rules as rewritten by the DOA on an “emergency” basis in April, 2013.

All the singers and others present arrested Wednesday were charged with violating an administrative code provision that describes what kind of activity would justify a declaration of an “unlawful event” by Capitol Police. Yet no access was blocked to any part of the building, and no violence, threats of violence or any interference with the operations of state government during the lunch hour singing was observed during the event, which has continued for over two years every weekday in or outside the Capitol. The tickets merely listed “No Permit” as the basis for getting a citation, and when citizens asked why they were being arrested, Capitol police, state troopers and DNR wardens told them they would “find out downstairs,” but no further explanation was offered. Agents of the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice Criminal Investigations unit were called in to help process the large number of people arrested.

The Madison Mass Defense group, involving attorney and legal worker members of the National Lawyers Guild, ACLU and others concerned about federal and state constitutional rights to petition and protest the government, has represented most of the 40 defendants given over 160 tickets in the “crackdown” ordered by Capitol Police Chief Erwin since he became chief a year ago. Only one case has gone to a jury trial resulting in a guilty verdict, and over 70 cases have been dismissed by the prosecuting Wisconsin Attorney General’s office or denied prosecution by the Dane County District Attorney. An appeal is pending in the Court of Appeals which may result in the state being ordered to pay the defendants’ attorneys’ fees if the prosecutions were not “substantially justified.”
Anyone needing legal assistance for arrests while singing or observing singing at the Capitol can call the NLG at 608-520-0654. The coordinator will then attempt to find legal representation for the person who has been arrested.

The Madison Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is the local arm of the national organization of lawyers, legal workers, law students, and jailhouse lawyers. The National Lawyers Guild represents progressive political movements, and its motto is that human rights are more sacred than property interests.

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