At the Racine and Kenosha offices of Congressman Paul Ryan, things were a little louder and busier than usual on Aug 24.
Wisconsin Jobs Now is an coalition of local groups, faith organizations and neighborhood associations that want to bring jobs to Wisconsin. With megaphones and signs, group members gathered outside Ryan's Racine office today.
“I have seen what good people and persistence can do,” said Diana Valencia, a member of the group. “The sudden drastic cuts have been such a blow to us. We need living wage jobs for citizens and we need training and education so we have people to fill those positions.”
Valencia is the Recruitment Coordinator for the GED/HSED Program with the City of Racine's Park and Recreation Department, which helps adults earn their diplomas in order to make them more employable. The state has gutted funding for this program and also reduced Valencia's work hours to 32 per week.
“These aren't just 18 to 20 year olds who partied and didn't graduate. These are 40-year-olds who find themselves having to search for employment in a different trade after 20 years of working at the same job,” Valencia stated.
When staff at Ryan's office was asked for a statement, they handed out a press release, but Conor Sweeney, a spokesperson for Congressman Ryan, did agree to a short phone interview.
“Congressman Ryan shares the frustrations of those he serves with the failures of President Obama’s economic policies. Unfortunately, ongoing disruptions at the Kenosha Constituent Service Center were preventing Congressman Ryan’s staff from serving other constituents," he said. "Those seeking to disrupt Congressman Ryan’s efforts to serve his constituents chose not to submit a scheduling request for a meeting, and rejected an invitation to take part in a conference call with Congressman Ryan.”
Janet Veum, from Wisconsin Jobs Now, responded to Sweeney's statement.
“Our people have submitted many requests. All that was received was a form letter telling them his (Ryan's) schedule is full. They can go to his only scheduled public appearance in West Allis this month, but there is a cost of $15 a head in order to attend," she said. "And the letter states that a conference call will only be scheduled if there is enough interest.”
When protesters arrived at Ryan's Kenosha office on Aug. 24, the doors were locked. Police were already in the building and the group was told they were not allowed to enter without an appointment. They decided to stay, but were not been permitted into the office all day.
“It is so ironic since all we want is a real appointment,” Veum stated. “In 2009, Paul Ryan held 17 Town Hall Meetings in the month of August. This year, nothing.”
In a press release issued Aug. 23, Ryan stated that he prides himself on being accessible.
“Residents of the First Congressional district can always communicate with me by visiting or calling my Washington DC office, one of the three permanent constituent service centers or by stopping by at the First congressional district's Mobile Office," he wrote. "My staff and I are always available to discuss concerns or problems individuals are having with the federal government and are glad to do so.”
The statement concludes by saying, “I plan on doing a number of events where I'll hear directly from my employers in the First District in order to discuss how Congress can encourage job creation and how those in Washington can begin to lift the crushing burden of debt our nation faces.”
If You Want to Contact Congressman Paul Ryan:
First Congressional District Offices:
Washington, DC Office
1233 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3031
Fax: (202) 225-3393
Janesville Constituent Services Center
20 South Main Street
Janesville, WI 53545
Toll-Free: 1-888-909-RYAN (7926)
Phone: (608) 752-4050
Fax: (608) 752-4711
Office Hours: M-F, 8am - 5pm
Kenosha Constituent Services Center
5455 Sheridan Road
Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: (262) 654-1901
Fax: (262) 654-2156
Office Hours: M-F, 9am - 4pm
Racine Constituent Services Center
216 6th Street
Racine, WI 53403
Phone: (262) 637-0510
Fax: (262) 637-5689
Office Hours: M-F, 9am - 4pm
The Mobile Office Schedule can be found HERE
If you are interested in getting more involved with your local government, click on the name of your village: