UPDATE: Joe Tarr has a story up on this now.
Brenda Konkel is not impressed by the conduct of at least two members of the Common Council. In a post this morning, she chastises Alds. Paul Skidmore, Joe Clausius, Steve King and Tim Bruer for walking out of the Council meeting and denying the body the quorum necessary to do business. Apparently Bruer and Skidmore had excuses, while the other two did not. King's Facebook post seemed to confirm he intended to show up Thuy Pham-Rammele, who was droning on about an issue nobody cared about.
My take on it? This was incredibly irresponsible, disrespectful and if they can't be bothered to do their jobs, then maybe they should be replaced come April. There was an amazing lack of respect by four men on the council. Thuy Pham-Remmele might be annoying from time to time, but she was elected. She represents over 10,000 people in the City of Madison and its up to her constituents to determine if she represents them or not. They, not the alders, should correct the problem. Perhaps I feel a bit of empathy for her because of what Clear and others did during the budget a few years ago, when they wouldn't let me discuss budget amendments during the budget discussion. But this seems wrong. Shutting down democracy because you want to go home is not acceptable from our elected leaders.
Konkel has never shied away from criticizing or ridiculing Thuy, however, she has also been one of her few defenders in instances when Council members take actions to limit her speaking time or shut her out of debates -- this is certainly not the first of those.
When I asked King why he walked out, he replied: "We had finished our important business." He added a somewhat veiled reference to Thuy's incompetence and/or obstructionism in the following statement:
I come to meetings prepared. I do my homework. If there are issues relevant to my constituents being discussed at other meetings, I attend those meetings even if I'm not on that committee as an official member. I try to ask questions and make statements that are relevant and focused on the issues (I admit, this is a learning curve and I have a lot to learn). Most of my colleagues are the same. Some, like Verveer, Rummel, Schmidt, Bidar-Sielaff, Solomon and Rhodes-Conway (to name a few) are role models of this in my opinion. I may not agree with all of them, but I know what they've put into it and I'm respectful that... and will always give them the time they need to discuss, ask thoughtful questions, and probe for information that is relevant and helps us to make a more informed decision.
Political enemies and buffoons are always a roadblock in legislative government. Those who claim their enemies are blocking them from getting the "real" work done may not be doing their job as well as they could. A true public servant navigates the political obstacles and comes through for the people.
On one hand, however, if alders want to get Thuy out of office, a walkout that creates media attention may be the way to do it. You may be able to convince her constituents that she can't get anything done but shut down government. Heck, it worked for Bill Clinton.