It was reported last week that an art exhibit planned for Madison at the end of March had been indefinitely postponed. The exhibit, entitled “Art in Protest”, was to have been organized with assistance from the Wisconsin School for Workers, which is part of the University of Wisconsin Extension. The school dropped the project after being pressured by Republican State Representative Steve Nass, who apparently did not approve of the subject matter.
As reported by The Progressive, Nass’s chief of staff Mike Mikalsen pressured officials at the school to cancel the exhibit:
“…the consequences of that kind of activity would fall on the extension. They would have to own it.”
Mikalsen denies that he out-and-out threatened to defund the School of Workers, though he says he told Olson that this is a “very tense time,” and that an exhibit likes this “makes it very difficult” to cooperate with the university.
“If something were to occur that would anger the Republican side or conservatives around the state, it would make it hard to continue to work cooperatively…”
Nass should know better than to try to stop angry badgers from exercising their Constitutional rights. Organizers have now, of course, rescheduled the event. It will likely draw two to three times the number of attendees that it would have if Nass had kept his mouth shut. From the Capital Times:
Michael Duffy, a local graphic artist who was involved with putting together the original event, said plans were finalized Monday afternoon to hold the “Censored Art Show” March 9-10 at the Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St. Space at the center is being rented out by artists who are determined to keep the festival alive.
“It’s just going to be a grassroots, down-and-dirty exhibit at the Goodman Center,” says Duffy. “We’ve invited people to show up Friday morning (March 9) and then we’ll just figure out how to display it on the fly.”
A poster for the arts event asks people to bring their “signs, songs, music, personal expression and outrage!”
I’m pondering whether I’ll start drawing social security before or after this feud over protest-related expenses ends. (23 years from now, give or take).
As you recall, Wisconsin’s DOA got the message out that protests at the Capitol were an expensive burden, saying it would cost $7.5 million for Capitol building cleaning – which later got knocked down to about $350,000. We’re back to talking big numbers but this time on security: $8.1 million in security costs during the high protest weeks at the Capitol.
Representatives Terese Berceau of Madison and Steve Nass of Whitewater seem to be designated fighters sparring on this issue.
Therese Berceau: “I am horrified that Governor Walker’s paranoia toward the people of Wisconsin has now resulted
in Wisconsin taxpayers being forced to shoulder an extra $8.1 million dollars in security costs. At the height of the protests earlier this year I was in the Capitol on a daily and nightly basis. Nothing warranted this cost. I saw seven state patrol officers outside of a second-floor bathroom with no protesters in sight. Twenty-eight state troopers stood outside the Assembly chambers when we were voting on redistricting when almost no one was in the Capitol. At one time, I actually heard a state trooper say, ‘Who do we call to say that two-thirds of us aren’t needed?’ – link to her full statement dated August 15.
I can cosign. And I can understand over-staffing in the early days, but as time wore on, it became clear the crowds were mature and even organizing their own volunteer “marshals” to act as vigilant watchdogs, ensuring civility.
When Nass wrote back to Berceau, he said that Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, County Executive Kathleen Falk, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, and Madison Police Chief Noble Wray were “siding with the siege participants” and egging them on.
Nass is missing the point that the amount of security was out of balance with the situation. But let’s say I do entertain this argument–that Dane County leaders have some responsibility for keeping the crowds strong and present. Then by the same logic, Nass and the whole largely boy band of Republicans bear a heavy burden of responsibility for standing by the legislative equivalent of Walker’s Atom Bomb. They refused to budge an inch on the laundry list of offenses within Wisconsin Act 10 and the rush of legislation that followed, only giving us maybe an 8th of an inch particularly by keeping Wisconsin’s Seniorcare program intact [This is a program which I’ve witnessed get put on the chopping block periodically over the years only to be revived at the last minute as if it’s fated to star in some ritual drama. This I know because I’ve heard my 84-year-old mom worrying about it each time]
As for the Dane County side of enforcement aid, Nass is not addressing squarely what caused tension between DOA and the Dane County Sheriff, David Mahoney, which is that the DOA refused to comply with a court order that opened up the Capitol building to the public and Mahoney responded by pulling his men and women, refusing to use them as “palace guards”:
“The deputies had been told that the doors would be open at 8 a.m. yesterday, but that didn’t happen and the officers didn’t find out why until the afternoon, Mahoney said.
“When asked to stand guard at the doors that duty was turned over to the Wisconsin State Patrol because our deputies would not stand and be palace guards,” Mahoney said. “I refused to put deputy sheriffs in a position to be palace guards.”” -press conference 3/1/11
Nass seems to be assuming that if local enforcement were more involved, the whole security detail would’ve been cheaper. I don’t see anything to prove it. Plus Madison and Dane County have had to float the $ to pay those personnel and they aren’t even reimbursed yet. Why would they want to take on more of the expense and wait this long to get $ – especially from a hostile administration like Walker’s?
Nass finishes off with a pithy paragraph about truth and the “fight to save our state and country”. The thousands who were so moved to assemble at his place of work and our Capitol to appeal to him also ARE OF THIS STATE AND COUNTRY. They also hold truth–apparently as seen through a different lense. They stood in the snow for hours. They didn’t demand Nass stand outside with them. They just wanted Nass and his kind to unthaw enough to move an unseen dial to a middle place inside their hearts or minds and accept the task of governing for all Wisconsinites. Nass has no noble claim of serving state and country. He’s lost that.
Nass stayed inside safe and dry and stubborn, and left too many people out in the cold.
Rep. Nass: Letter to Rep. Berceau re: Round 2 Capitol security costs
Representative Terese Berceau
Room 127 West
RE: Round 2 – Capitol Security Costs and Reading Comprehension
Dear Representative Berceau:
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter of August 16, 2011. I appreciate you taking the time to obtain a response from the public sector union bosses and forwarding their thoughts on to me.
I encourage you to review your letter since it fails to accurately depict the content of my letter (not a press release). I stated my opposition to reimbursement of costs incurred by the City of Madison Police Department and the DaneCounty Sheriff’s Department (emphasis added to assist in ease of reading). Your letter dishonestly states I am opposed to paying all law enforcement agencies for their service at the State Capitol.
During the Capitol Siege, I understand that you were busy pandering to the protesters while wearing your orange shirt, but the media documented the statements of Sheriff Dave Mahoney, County Executive Kathleen Falk, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, and Police Chief Noble Wray.
In those statements, it was clear these local Madison officials were siding with the siege participants and even encouraging their conduct. These local actions clearly played a role in the need for the Department of Administration and the Capitol Police Department to seek assistance from other state and local law enforcement agencies in re-establishing law and order at the State Capitol.
If the Madison Police Department and the DaneCounty Sheriff’s Department were permitted to provide service within the State Capitol, then it might not have been necessary to obtain manpower from other agencies. However, the local leadership of these law enforcement agencies ( City of Madison and Dane County) restricted those officers from participating in the proper law enforcement function of securing the State Capitol and removing the obstructing protesters.
I am not surprised that you would attempt re-write history and whitewash the terrible conduct of your colleagues in the professional protest community. However, the intentional dishonesty in your communications are another telling sign of the desperate need of Assembly Democrats to hide their behavior from decent people of this state. While the truth may be your enemy, it is the life’s blood of the citizens that took back their government in November 2010 and will continue to fight to save our state and country.
31st Assembly District
Letter originally located at wispolitics.com
To communicate with Rep. Steve Nass:
(608) 266-5715 Or
Room 12 West
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
N8330 Jackson Road
Whitewater, WI 53190
How much Madison/Dane County did kick in: According to Isthmus “The state has calculated that costs for providing security during the months of protests is more than $8 million. Madison is asking to be reimbursed $682,842 for services it provided, including $555,098 for police, $37,719 for fire personnel, $79,148 for Metro Transit and $10,876 for use of the fire department’s command center. The state expects to pay Dane County $534,081.”