YOUR COUNTY: Stonewalling constituents

by Jim Baumgart

In recent columns I wrote that I contacted Rep. Mike Endsley, 26th Assembly District, three times: twice by letter with copies to The Plymouth Review and The Sheboygan Press – and once at the Sheboygan County Board’s Legislative Breakfast. He did not respond in writing to either letter and did not answer or even speak when questioned at the meeting. That seemed strange for a legislator when questions and answers are key to these meetings.

The issue and question asked was: “Because you (Rep. Endsley) are planning on investigating possible unemployment violations, would you also open your unemployment records to the public and press for review?”

He had indicated he had information about such violations at the October 2011 Legislative Breakfast meeting and he was going to work with a legislative task force on waste and fraud – even though he was not a member of that group. You would think a discussion with the area press with information on possible unemployment violations might have been wise and, if he was going to investigate, he would open up his own unemployment records to the public and press for review.

Although I knew the answer, I did check to see if he had an office and staff at the state Capitol to answer constituents’ letters and telephone calls. Assembly Records lists that he has a full-time staff person, Lauren Clark, in room 219N, and his toll free telephone number is 1-888-282-3626. While over 80 percent of the Assembly legislators have a website, he does not, but his office does have an email address. What was somewhat interesting but incomplete, the Assembly Records lists his home address but not a local telephone number where he could be reached.

I would guess, if given directions, Clark could write me his response about opening up his unemployment records to the public and press. But Rep. Endsley has, for whatever reason, decided not to respond to a constituent who happens to be a member of the Sheboygan County Board and a person who has seven years of experience working with the unemployed in the early 1980s. As stated in last week’s column, it has raised a “red flag” and now maybe more than one. The items of concern, which likely would not have come up had he answered my question and opened up his unemployment records, include the following:

. Is not answering some constituents’ letters, emails or requests a common occurrence? If you are a constituent of Rep. Endsley and have contacted him without an answer, please email me a short note at jimcob@bytehead.com.

. Another but clearly a major concern is his planned investigation: Why would he not discuss with the press the unemployment issues where he thought there was waste and fraud, first locally, before working with a legislative task force of which he is not even a member?

Why would he not open up his unemployment records to the public and press? Is it because he was collecting unemployment benefits (weekly checks) while working countless hours campaigning door to door and it might not look or seem right? Opening his unemployment records would clearly show if he did or did not do the required work search efforts while campaigning nearly full time.

Or is there a question that he may have been offered work and passed on applying for the job, and he does not want to raise the issue?

These are questions that need not have been raised. Legislators are expected to show leadership at a higher standard, and Rep. Endsley will not find it by stonewalling constituents.


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