Sunday, August 19, 2007

County: Impeach Bush, Cheney

County: Impeach Bush, Cheney
By Ben Hopper / Capital Times

At the end of a marathon seven-hour session, the Dane County Board early today became the second county government in the nation to endorse the impeachment of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

About a third of the board members left the meeting before the impeachment vote was taken shortly before 2 a.m. The measure passed with 24 in favor, three against, two abstaining and the remaining 12 absent.

The issue of impeachment -- a symbolic resolution to be sent to Wisconsin's congressional representatives -- wasn't taken up until after the board endorsed a regional transportation authority plan.

By that time, shortly after midnight, few public speakers remained, although the night began with fanfare and a demonstration in support of the impeachment proposal. Although many cities and other municipalities have endorsed impeachment, Dane is only the second county -- behind New York 's Tompkins County -- to endorse such action.

A group of 60 or more gathered in front of two black coffins bearing the names of Constitution and Democracy -- part formal protest, part street theater.

"A lot of people are saying we ought to let these fellows run out the clock," said Midge Miller, whose first presidential protest began five decades ago against Lyndon Johnson. "But I say we cannot afford to give them any more time, because we do not know what they will continue to do."

The protesters, dressed in orange vests and armbands, beat drums and waved signs as County Board members Barbara Vedder, Ashok Kumar and John Hendrick all spoke in favor of the resolution.
"People have said this is not our business," said Hendrick, "but as board members we swore an oath to defend our Constitution against these kinds of attacks."

When the resolution came up for public discussion, the impeachment supporters were clearly the largest contingent, but several citizens endured the wait to voice their opposition to the idea.

"I thought this board was supposed to be nonpartisan," said Bill Richardson, a former Marine from Middleton and part of the organization Say No to Cut and Run. "This board was not created to affect our nation's foreign policy. In my opinion, you are being used to create free advertising for the anti-war left."

The majority of the dissension followed Richardson's lead and focused not on the validity of the charges that impeachment supporters enumerated, but on whether or not the County Board was within its rights to consider the issue.

Among the reasons given for impeachment were illegal wiretaps, the deception that led up to the Iraq war and the torture of detainees.

County Board members Eileen Bruskewitz, who voted against the resolution, and Sheila Stubbs, who abstained, both felt impeachment was not an appropriate topic for the board.

"I believe my main role is to be a liaison between my constituents and the county," said Stubbs, who represents a district on Madison's south side.

In the end, though, those who supported impeachment celebrated the accomplishment. Buzz Davis, a veteran from Stoughton who helped organize the event, produced more than 8,000 petition signatures in favor of the impeachment resolution.

Joan Schwarz, a Madison resident, Stoughton attorney and lecturer at UW-Whitewater, said for the group: "Our last impeachment began at the top. This time there is a need for this action from the bottom up."