What!? Taking a page out of the Capital Police playbook?
Article in the Wisconsin State Journal explains that the Madison police department is now charging groups marching down state street for the costs unless they stay on the sidewalk and stop for stoplights.
4 groups have been charged $127 – 658 to march down the street since April. First of all, what the hell is wrong with the 4 groups that paid! One more will be charged. 4 others stayed on the sidewalk. Why didn’t any of these folks says something! I guess I heard a rumblings, but didn’t really grasp the concept from what I heard.
Here’s what annoys the hell out of me. Looks like the police department will make about $2000 – $2500 on this. Yet they have a $60,000,000, yes $60 Million dollar budget! About $53M of that goes to pay for cops salaries and benefits. Do we really need to charge the community this pittance in their budget to be able to exercise free speech? Don’t we already pay through our taxes for the cops to do their jobs? This seems like they just don’t like the annoyance of people making them do something they haven’t planned. And while this is a pittance for the police department budget, this is quite a bit of money for grassroots groups, which may have no treasury at all. This has the impact of further sanitizing State St., preventing people from exercising their free speech rights and is yet another point where the police department is allowed free reign to trample our rights.
Another major annoyance – and maybe its just cuz I was on the council for 8 years – but um, what happened to democracy. The executive branch just made this decision and avoided the public process and the common council. This was an administrative decision with no public discussion. Probably because the police knew that if there was public discussion there would be a huge outcry.
Now what? Some council member puts in a budget amendment to give the police department for an additional $5,000 to allow groups to march on State St? Is that now the amount we have to pay when we get blackmailed by our police department? I’m guessing if someone tries to just pass a resolution telling them to stop charging, the Chief will tell them to go to hell, as he has in the past. He’s in charge of the police department and answers to the Police and Fire Commission and doesn’t have to listen to them. And our Police and Fire Commission wouldn’t even thing of addressing this kind of issue. Our Public Safety Review Commission is another group that should be a watchdog over the police, but they have even less power than the council. It’s another moment in time where we need Ben Masel. Tho, sounds like Jeff Scott Olson is looking for a case. And I’m guessing he will win. And we, as tax payers will pay for the arrogance and disregard of the public of our police department.
We really need a real oversight board for our police department. Or a police chief that would work with the city council on issues like this. Well, and a common council that doesn’t ask “how high” when the police ask them to jump. But then again, they are probably intimidated by them and afraid that come election time the police will put up billboards supporting their opponents. Believe it or not, having experienced that, I think it is worth it. If you can’t stand up for what you believe in – why bother being on the council? Will anyone on the council stand up to the police department? My guess is the best we get is a budget amendment giving them more money.
Categories: | Madison | Media