As you probably noticed from the posts yesterday, Mr. Completely and I went on down to Olympia to attend the hearing for SB-5197, the anti-gun show bill.
If you’re in Western Washington and didn’t attend, you missed out, boy, let me tell you what.
We left and arrived early so that we could chat with John Rothlin, Communications Director for the Washington House Republicans, with whom we had had a conference call with on Tuesday, and so that I could drop letters that resembled the one I posted yesterday off to my elected representatives. Sadly, all three of the officals from my 27th LD, my Senator Debbie Regala, and my Representatives, Dennis Flannigan and Jeannie Darneille, have co-sponsored either SB-5197 or its companion bill in the House, HB-1026.
We chatted with Mr. Rothlin for a little while and he made sure to give us letters from more law enforcement agencies asking the head of the Dept. of Corrections, Secretary Harold Clarke, about certian questionable policies of his agency. I’ll share those with you in the near future.
Before leaving the House offices, I stopped by Rep. Darneille’s office to drop off my letter. She wasn’t in, but her receptionist took the letter and actually thanked me for it and said she would give it to her.
Rep. Flannigan’s receptionist, on the other hand, seemed ready for an argument and tried to grill me as to the reason for my opposition to HB-1026. I answered her questions, a little taken aback due to the pointedness of her questions and her attitude as though what else would a properly thinking individual believe but that shutting down gun shows was a good way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
But what are you going to do, except answer the questions. So I did.
When we first approached the House offices, which are separated by a courtyard from the Senate offices, there were about 100 people standing out in the courtyard waiting to be let in. It was two hours before the hearing and the room was still currently occupied by a different committee’s hearing and that was the staging area. But during the time we had spent with Mr. Rothlin and then me dropping off my letters, the crowd had all moved inside.
I think I can safely say that there were more than 100 people there then.
The line went around the corner to the left and then back along the wall into the hall.
And there were more people arriving every minute.
We both signed in on the proper (read: Con) sheets for the hearing. Not long after we did so, they ran out of sign in sheets and had to get more.
If you look in the foreground of the West photo, you will see one of the members of the Washington State Patrol. I counted no less than five of them acting as security in the hallway. However, I never saw one of them not smiling or even have to raise his voice to the crowd that was growing upwards to 400 people. Just like a counter protest to a MoveOn.Org demonstration, the constabulary knows they have nothing to fear from this side of the argument.
With still 30 minutes to go before the hearing started, I headed up to the second floor to drop off my letter to Senator Regala. Her office wasn’t diffcult to find. In fact it caught my attention rather easily when I saw this sign posted on the open door leading in.
Yeah, I’m sure my letter is going to last a good, long time in her hands.
Shortly after I took the East/West photos, Seattle Police Chief, Gil Kerlikowskie, walked through as fast as he could. If I hadn’t put my camera away, I would have taken a picture of him as evidence that he didn’t leave his service pistol in his car this time, to be stolen.
Not long after that, they opened up Hearing Room #4, which filled up very quickly. After the committee that was taking up the adjoining Hearing Room #1 had completed their business, it was opened up and again, filled up quickly.
Mr. C and I were able to get into the next room opened up for this hearing, “Conference Room #1” and grab seats. All of the rooms, we were told, had video links such as the one we enjoyed.
And there we sat, for very close to two hours, listening to Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, LCR&D Chair, play partisan politics via the gavel over those testifying.
Since there were so many people signed up, they basically divided up the leaders of the organizations into pro and con groups, then made two groups out of each of the speakers, and then gave each of the four groups 12 minutes to speak and then answer questions from the committee.
I have video taken from the same angle as the last photo of the vast majority of the hearing (approx. 1hr and 15mins). I have MP3 audio of the rest (approx. 38min).
And therein lies the problem: I have so much media to go through and so little time until this weekend to go through it (I’m employed, you see, and not one of those Indymedia leeches).
I’ll be splitting up the segments into watchable bites and then converting them to a watchable format over the weekend and have them up bright and early on Monday.
I shit you not, if you didn’t make it, you missed out. There were quite a few rounds of applause made for the anti-SB-5197 folks testifying and some very good counterpoints/questions made by the anti-SB-5197 folks on the committee for the pro-SB-5197 people testifying.
Normally, watching government in action is like watching paint dry. This, however, is like watching gun bigots get their asses handed to them on their own turf.
Sorry to disappoint, but I’ve got a schedule to keep here to keep the income flowing in a positive direction.