Letter to Scott Walker on Ciara Matthews

Wisconsin State Capitol. Photo by Callen Harty.

Dear Governor Walker,
Here it is, only three days after you survived the recall election and three days after you stood in front of your supporters and media and told all of Wisconsin that you wanted to put the past behind us and work with Democrats to create jobs and move Wisconsin forward.  Your words sounded great and for those of us who voted for Mayor Barrett what you said was the kind of balm that can sometimes help ease the pain of a stinging loss in a hard-fought election.
You have said in other interviews that you have been humbled and that you have learned some lessons even as difficult as this last year has been.  You said that you would have done things differently and that you would have brought others to the table and you would have been more inclusive.  A politician who can admit that they were wrong and that they have learned lessons from their mistakes is a rare thing to see in our country.  If it is not just idle words I applaud you for it.
You have also said that you want to meet with Democrats, perhaps have some brats and beers together, and begin the difficult task of trying to piece back together the ripped fabric of the state we all love so much.  Again, unless this is empty rhetoric, I can appreciate your willingness to do this.  I would suggest that you also open yourself to the citizens of the state and include more of us in your consideration as well.  You have made only rare appearances at events where anyone could go and the person who runs a state like Wisconsin really should be more accessible to the people.  You represent us and need to be able to hear our concerns.
All of these things you have said are good.  But it is meaningless if the people around you don’t follow your example.  Your supporters created signs that said, “Stand With Walker” to show support during the recall election period.  These people need to stand with you now and follow the leader and put divisiveness, anger, and other negative feelings behind them.  A true leader would not allow his followers to detract from his message of cooperation and reconciliation.  This is why I was suprised and upset to see that your Communications Director, Ciara Matthews, tweeted a very harsh message to Democrats (and I presume independents and Republicans who did not support you in this election).
I would be surprised if you haven’t seen it yet, as it is definitely making the rounds.  It read, “No leg. session until 2013 = symbolic state senate majority.  Your one seat accomplishes zero.  Just like your recall efforts.”  This kind of gloating and disrespectful behavior from a key player in your administration is unacceptable and juvenile behavior that should not and cannot be tolerated.  I might expect it from a neighbor who doesn’t like my politics, but not from one of your hired employees.  I presume Ms. Matthews is an adult, but based on the tone of this tweet from someone whose job is communications I question her maturity and her qualifications for such a position.
As the Governor, as the man who is telling Wisconsin that you want us all to move on and work together, you need to talk to Ms. Matthews and she needs to make a public apology.  As the chief executive of this state you should also release a statement acknowledging that this kind of behavior is unacceptable to you and that you truly do want to move past this kind of behavior and will not tolerate it.  If you do not, all the rest of what you have said this week will be seen as empty and meaningless words.
Thank you for your consideration.
Callen Harty
Monona, WI

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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5 Responses to Letter to Scott Walker on Ciara Matthews

  1. Bea says:

    Such grace exhibited by a person in charge of communications. She’s also wrong about “zero effect.” A majority has ramifications during any special or extraordinary session which the governor may call, something he’s shown fondness for, and for committee assignments such as the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules, the only legislative backstop against total administrative domination of state agencies.
    Here’s a copy of her ill-advised tweet:


  2. Sandra says:

    This girl SHOULD NOT be anywhere near a public office let alone the Gov.’s. This is a disgrace to our state that such a woman is even allowed the job she has. I guess it just goes to show how little people pay attention anymore to morals and values. Its all HYPOCRACY at its finest. I am just sickened by this young ladies actions AND life style. Shame on her. I hope her parents are proud. I would be embarrassed to call her my daughter that is for sure. It also tells me just what kind of man Walker REALLY is now. I’m sure she has no re-grets for her actions either. Just sick, sick , sick. Thanks Walker for showing the rest of the country just what kind of man runs our state.

  3. I picked up on all those items in his victory speech as well and had hoped that he meant them. Without coming right out and saying he was sorry, I took those things to mean so. Years ago when he first tried running for Governor, and I was a true stalwart Republican I used to campaign for him a lot. Even got to eat some of his mother’s cookies, but he’s not that guy anymore. I believe that 110%,
    As upset about the election as I am, I didn’t post bad things on facebook and my friends didn’t point fingers and say I told you so either.

  4. Well said, Callen.

  5. Tom Schroeder says:

    I love your blog, and you Callen, the insightful way you pick apart the words and actions of others with the non-aggressive, factual approach make for one wily writer! Oh, and finally mailed you a Random Axe CD today

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