Thank you to the BizTimes for this recognition and thank you to my family, friends, and everyone here for being with me today. I appreciate all of you more than I can say.
At the outset I assure you that I will hold to my time limit of 12 minutes. I won't be talking about my career or all of the good things me or my family have worked on in the past. My remarks today are more important than that and deal with the future – in truth all of our futures.
I want to talk to you about the polarization and bitterness that has descended on our Great State of Wisconsin this past year. I have spoken to no one who isn't unhappy and worried about the state of affairs that we are all experiencing in Wisconsin. So whether Scott Walker is your courageous hero or Tom Barrett is your savior sent from heaven, each of us will make that decision and I implore all of my fellow citizens to vote your own conscience on June 5th.
But after that let's get on with it, let's roll up our sleeves and go to work together.
We must respect each other and understand that none of us are always right or always wrong. But recognize that as citizens we are all going downhill unless we make the needed changes to our schools and government and work together toward the common goals that will solve our problems.
I consider both of the candidates in this election friends of mine and I respect each of them. A few years ago I chaired several studies of the causes and potential cures of Milwaukee County's fiscal crisis. As you recall, this situation had been brought to light by the pension scandal and the recall election of County Executive Tom Ament and other County Supervisors.
Scott Walker was elected to replace Ament and by all measures he did an excellent job. I know he worked with our group and helped us in every way he could.
In the case of Tom Barrett, I first met him while he was serving in the State Senate. I had been nominated to the Board of Regents of The University of Wisconsin System by Governor Tommy Thompson and he sent me around to meet every Senator in advance of my confirmation hearings. Tom stood out. He is a man of honesty and high intelligence. As Mayor of Milwaukee, I have always supported his actions.
As you can see, I admire both of these gentlemen although I can only vote for one. One a Republican and one a Democrat.
So where am I going with this? In the past, and I mean while I was in college, I considered myself a Republican. Even though I have received appointments from both Republican and Democratic Presidents and Republican and Democratic Governors. In considering this issue, I have concluded these party labels have lost their meaning to me. My politics are for what is right, what makes common sense, what is decent, what will create prosperity and a good life – I am for civility.
So what is civility?
Webster defines civil, civility, civilization as follows:
- A community of citizens. A rational and fair government.
- Being polite and courteous is civil.
- Civil law which is derived from Roman law and is a basis of our common law. Civility is a high stage of cultural, social and intellectual development.
- Civility is positive and sincere consideration of others.
- Also consider that chivalrous is derived from civil and means gallant, noble, protector of the weak.
I believe that the Founders of our great country sought to create a nation of "civility." They sought to create a nation that elected leaders who could recognize both sides of all issues and through honest and informed debate could and would resolve differences fairly and then move ahead.
Remember the early part of our Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Happiness is a state of civility.
We need people like you and me stand up and declare we have had enough. We must ask for civility whatever is the out come of the recall election. No – we must insist on civility and insist that these two leaders of their respective parties collaborate and recognize the problems facing Wisconsin and compromise to achieve effective solutions. We cannot heal or move ahead unless these two leaders commit to returning civility to Wisconsin. I hope you agree with me. Thank you; I appreciate this award, and ON WISCONSIN.