My friend Brad Werntz submitted this letter, which he posted on his blog, The Short Menu, as part of the MoD Open Letter Challenge. In his letter, he reminds the future former Governor of Wisconsin of both the reasons we still need urgently to speak out against his administration and the ways that his policies affect real people in real communities. As a small business owner, Brad makes a powerful case for why Walker's "Open for Business" rhetoric rings hollow when he pits members of our communities against each other, writing "When you claim that you are supporting one at the expense of the other - private businesses at the expense of public infrastructure, "taxpayers" at the expense of public servants - you reveal that you don't understand that all of these things are interlinked." Thanks to Brad for sharing his letter - I hope it inspires you to write yours!
Dear Governor Walker,I just thought I'd send you a quick update to the testimony I gave to the Joint Finance Committee at about 1:30am on February 15, 2011. You probably missed it, and - frankly - I'm glad you did.As a public speaker, I wasn't really at my very best that night. Part of the problem was that I was really angry that you decided to "drop a bomb" on Wisconsin.Then I spent six straight hours watching Robin Vos act in an utterly condescending and curt manner to everyday Wisconsin citizens. It was obvious in his every movement that the hearing was merely for show, and - in fact - at one point he said just this. It was likely in this same statement that he dismissed everyone waiting to speak as being from out-of-state.Then the hearing room doors were shut in our faces.Then, the first chants broke out in the Capitol, spontaneously, from hundreds of voices: "LET US SPEAK! LET US SPEAK!"There were students chanting this - yes - but there were also teachers, retirees, nurses, public workers, scientists, service-providers, artists, and - believe it or not - people who you might call "job creators," or "taxpayers."You know, the people you claim to cater to when you say "Wisconsin is Open For Business."And that was what I was there to tell you: When you dropped your bomb on Wisconsin, you claimed you were doing it for people like me. As a small business owner here in Madison, I wanted you to know that you don't speak for me.In my big moment before the Joint Finance Committee, I was so angry that I muffed it. But that's okay. We don't have to cover that ground again. I've done so elsewhere, many times.But there's something I said that night that I haven't repeated, and it's a story about community. Small businesses build community, not just in the dollars they generate but in other ways, too.On February 13, 2011, this idea manifested itself literally when a baby girl was born to two people who had fallen in love in the community of my small business. Hers wasn't the first birth from our community, and it definitely wasn't the last. But when I sat down in front of the Joint Finance Committee, this little girl's birth was such a perfect and recent example of how small local business connects people - not just to each other but to the community in which we all live - hers was a story I wanted to tell.Both her parents once worked at my business, although at different times. Her father worked for us in high school and through college, and eventually became a manager. Her mother worked with autistic children, and ran innovative programs for them at our facility. Before they found one another, both of her parents had dated other people in our community. In fact, her father had been married before, to a friend of her mother's.And this is where the story - for me - gets very powerful.You see, the woman this little girl's father married, this friend of her mother's? Well, she died. She was very young, very vivacious, truly a light for all in our circle.So this little girl's father faced life without his wife. Her mother went on without her friend. Both grieved, and in their grief they found solace, and eventually love with one another, in the shelter of the small community of our small business here in Madison. Their marriage was a joyous contrast to the funeral we had all attended several years prior.In sharing this story with you, this is what I wanted you to know, Governor Walker: When you drop bombs on Wisconsin, you drop them on real communities made up of real people.We are connected in part by the company we choose, but we are also connected by the hubs that draw us together. These hubs are not just private businesses like mine, but also public schools, community centers, and local greenspaces. When you claim that you are supporting one at the expense of the other - private businesses at the expense of public infrastructure, "taxpayers" at the expense of public servants - you reveal that you don't understand that all of these things are interlinked.You cannot build up one part of a community by dropping bombs on another part of that same community.So, anyway, this is what I wanted to be sure you knew, and it's something I didn't get out during the two minutes I testified before the Joint Finance Committee.The reason I was reminded of all of this today? Well, that little girl in my story just today got a new sibling, and it's a boy!I'm guessing that you don't really care, but I wanted you to know that community goes on in spite of what you've done. Oh, and that - as a community - because you dropped bombs on us we're going to recall you on June 5th.Sincerely,Brad Werntz