June 20, 2009
Ah, closed doors again
I remember when professional athletes were admitted to the AFL-CIO. Brig Owens and I took the train to New York, credentials in hand, to attend our first meeting of the Federation as members. Brig also had another meeting to attend so we agreed to meet later at the AFL-CIO executive council meeting. I went directly to the council meeting alone. I was, to put it mildly, eager to see how policy in the labor federation was made.
As I approached the door a guard asked what I wanted, and I told him I was there to attend the executive council meeting. "No you aren't," was the response. "Yes, I am a delegate. Check my credentials," was my rejoinder. "So what? You are not going in there." I was not allowed to enter the room, so I wrote a letter to Lane Kirkland, president of the Federation. I suggested that if members are expected to support the Fed's policies, they should, at minimum, be permitted to listen to the debate. Kirkland responded, "Brother Garvey. I brought your idea to the council and it was rejected."
So much for participatory democracy! My attitude was permanently altered.
Fast forward to the $62.5 billion budget debate in Wisconsin. Democrat Doyle kept his proposed budget a secret until forced to send it to the Democratic controlled Assembly. The Democratic controlled Joint Finance Committee debated behind closed doors; the Assembly Dems kept the public out; the Senate Dems closed the doors and now the reconciliation effort will be hidden from the public, leading Peter Leidy to dedicate his rendition of the song "Behind Closed Doors" to the Democratic leaders on Here & Now.
Too bad. People eager to support their leaders are asked for money, time and support, but are not trusted to listen? Whoa Nelly!
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