Tension Runs High at Sensenbrenner Town Hall Meeting
Roughly 120 people packed Whitefish Bay Village Hall Sunday night, but recall candidates Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Sandy Pasch were not among them.
Tensions were high Sunday night at Whitefish Bay Village Hall, where an overflow crowd of about 120 people packed into U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's town hall meeting.
But with only two weeks until the 8th Senate District recall election between state Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Sandy Pasch, the crowd seemed more focused on the two politicians who weren't in the board room. Sensenbrenner said both Darling and Pasch declined invitations.
The crowd was filled with people wearing campaign shirts for both Pasch and Darling, and Democratic residents held signs reading "shame" and "wrong" whenever Sensenbrenner or a conservative resident made a claim that triggered their attention.
Before and after the meeting, a large crowd lingered outside of Village Hall, and three police officers were on patrol throughout the event. Union groups and We Are Wisconsin urged their members to attend the meeting.
Shorewood resident Pablo Muirhead noted that Darling attended a community festival in Menomonee Falls over the weekend, but didn't show up at Sunday's meeting.
"Let's see your face, Senator Darling," he said.
"She's not in Illinois," shouted a man in the back of the room, referring to the 14 Democratic state senators that fled to Illinois to delay the Republican majority's passage of Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill.
Several other arguments broke out among crowd members during the meeting, causing Sensenbrenner to bang his gavel several times and threaten to call a "time out for five minutes."
The crowd did have some questions for Sensenbrenner, ranging from the debt ceiling to Medicare reform.
With regard to the ongoing partisan stalemate over raising the debt ceiling, Sensenbrenner said he will wait to see what is included in the latest proposal before giving his support to any plan.
“Merely raising the debt ceiling without having changes in spending is simply going to make the deficit worse, and that was voted down about a month ago,” he said.
On Medicare, Sensenbrenner said something has to be done or the program will go broke. He said he voted for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which drew both boos and applause from the divided crowd.
“I’ve never said Paul Ryan is right for everything, but he ought to get credit for having a plan,” Sensenbrenner said.
Sandy Byrne, of Bayside, was concerned about a bill in the House of Representatives that would cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and repeal a ban on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, among other measures.
"I'm appalled at the continued gutting of good government regulation and awarding corporations who pollute and not holding them accountable," she said.
Sensenbrenner signaled his support for the bill.
"Nobody's for dirty water or unsafe air. The question is whether EPA regulations have a legitimate cost-benefit analysis," he said. "If you have regulations that kill jobs...Everyone has different values. We need jobs in this country."
Responding to boos in the crowd, Sensenbrenner said companies are not the only ones to blame.
"I get sick and tired of people saying that people are dumping sewage in our water when one of the biggest polluters in our country is the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District," he said.