Tuesday, January 24, 2006

'The Capitol Is On Fire'

Yesterday's "public telling" at the Capitol was memorable in so many ways. Citizens asking pointed questions about government corruption and political reform to blown-up photos of Governor Jim Doyle, Assembly Speaker John Gard and Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz because they refused to answer in person or in writing. Legislative whistleblower Lyndee Woodliff describing in a trembling, barely audible voice how she saw lawmakers become lawbreakers. Retiring Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann saying you'd have to be "dumb as a shovel" to believe insiders' claims that big campaign donors don't want anything in return for their money except good government. McCann went on to say the "Capitol is on fire" with corruption.

And then there was the scene-stealing Doris "Granny D" Haddock, who turns 96 today and charmed the overflow crowd of more than 300 People's Legislature members with her special blend of passion and wit. One of her better lines was a story about a member of Congress who said, in so many words, that he is not tainted by his association with indicted Indian tribe lobbyist Jack Abramoff because he had sold out to Indian gaming interests long before he ever met Abramoff.

Granny D completed a 3,200-mile walk across the country to draw attention to government corruption and the need for political reform at the age of 90 and obviously believes the long journey to reform is nearing paydirt. The power of her example inspired more than a few in the standing-room-only crowd. One participant from the northwoods took the day off from work and drove 300 miles to be a part of the forum. He said "if Granny D can walk 3,200 miles for the cause, then I surely can drive 300 miles."

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