Jimmy Anderson is a Democratic Wisconsin State Representative from Fitchburg. Jimmy was paralyzed from the chest down when a drunk driver slammed into the car that Anderson was riding in. This tragedy also killed his parents and his brother.
Along with being paralyzed, Anderson also has a number of serious health problems. Appearing in committee meetings is not always easy for Anderson due to these health concerns and the difficulty in finding an available personal care worker, especially if the meetings start early or run late.
Due to these concerns, Anderson has respectfully requested to sometimes appear at these meetings via phone, pointing out that he otherwise would not be able to do his job to his best ability.
The Republican Speaker of the Assembly, Robin Vos, in a display of breathtaking pettiness and callousness has denied this simple request, despite strong federal laws mandating that accommodations are made for people with disabilities. Vos' reasoning for this cruelty is that he felt Anderson would be "disrespectful" if he did so:
Vos, of Rochester, noted lawmakers have accommodated his needs in other ways, such as by providing him with a computer that has voice recognition software. But Vos said he was unwilling to change the rule that requires representatives to show up at committee meetings in person.
"It just comes down to the fact that I think it’s disrespectful for someone to be asking questions over a microphone or a speakerphone when individuals are actually taking the time out of their day to come and testify in person," Vos said.
This is beyond absurd and outrageous. Even Wisconsin courts will allow people to appear telephonically for mitigating circumstances less serious than this.
Anderson is pissed, and rightfully so:
"I think it is absolutely ridiculous to say that an accommodation needed for a disability would somehow be disrespectful to people," Anderson said. "I think it's disrespectful to exclude a duly elected member of the Legislature to be able to fully participate when the need for an accommodation arises."
Anderson said he prefers to participate in meetings in person but can’t always do so. It’s difficult to find personal-care workers who can assist him if meetings start early or go late and it’s not healthy for him to be in his chair for extended periods, he said.
“There are some very personal and private things that are related to my health and disability that no other representative is expected to talk about with Vos,” he said. “It’s crazy that I would have to have discussions with Vos about those issues just to get simple accommodations.”
Anderson is currently looking into whether he can sue under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). He has also has the Dane County District Attorney to whether or not Vos' denial violates the state's open meetings laws. The DA has passed it on to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.
Vos, blinded by his pettiness, spite, and hunger for power, is willing to gamble even more of taxpayers money that he is somehow above the law.
And to think, Vos has aspirations to gain even more power by being governor some day. Good luck with that.