No Guard, No Involuntary Commitment, No Services

Posted December 17th, 2013 @ 8:58 AM by

Minor tweaks to the City County Building rules that probably won’t do much different than what is already happening in the building – except make people feel like they are doing something. Of course, it all sounded good last night, but lets see how it gets implemented.

From what I can tell, there will be a progressive system for discipline in the City-County Building, but no one can get banned, because they can still come to the building for “official business” including watching government meetings. There were lots of proposals that got modified and improved at the joint meeting of the Homeless Issues Committee and the City-County Liaison Committee. In the end, I think cooler heads prevailed and they came up with some reasonable solutions. Based on the comments in the hallway after the meeting, I’m a little concerned the staff that has been assigned this is less than thrilled with having to deal with this, so I am concerned about the way this gets implemented.

Here’s what happened – I’ll tell you what was proposed and what they decided. The dual meeting actually consisted of a presentation, public input, the Homeless Issues Committee met and made recommendations and then the City-County Liaison Committee met and adopted most of the recommendations with a few more tweaks. There was consensus in all these decisions and it finally passed unanimously.

No intoxicated people in the building
PROPOSED: 6.2. No alcoholic beverages are allowed in the building the building. This includes possessing, selling, distributing, consuming or being under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance.

PASSED: No alcoholic beverages are allowed in the building the building.

They ultimately decided that it would not be appropriate to ban people who had a beer at a local establishment then came to pay their taxes or attend a meeting. Cuz yeah, they’d have to ban a couple people I served on the council from coming to the meetings. Sadly, alcoholism is not just for the homeless. And this is still Wisconsin and people might have a beer with lunch on a day off and then finish running errands including to the city-county building. They attempted to say you couldn’t be over the legal limit, but determined there was no way to test for that.

Lack of Restroom Facilities
PROPOSED: 6.4. No person shall deposit human waste products upon nor urinate or defecate in the CCB other than into a toilet or other device designed and intended to be used to ultimately deposit such human waste products into a septic or sanitary sewer system

PASSED: Change “in” to “inside” to make it clear that peeing in the bushes outside was different than activities in the building. There are laws that prevent people from peeing in the bushes outside. This is where Larry Palm noted that he wasn’t sure who is in charge of getting the portapotties placed and that requires some follow up to make sure it really happens and doesn’t get forgotten.

Review of the Policy and Progressive Discipline Matrix
NEW: They will review the policy three months after it passes to see how it is going. The policy will begin January 1, 2014 and there will be a matrix developed for progressive discipline modeled after the library policy.

Appeal Process
PROPOSED 4.4.6. Process for Appealing a Decision regarding a Rules Violation: Anyone wishing to appeal a decision regarding a rules violation must, within 30 days of receipt of the decision, send a written request for reconsideration to the Director of the Dane County Department of Administration, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Room 425, Madison, WI 53703.. THE DECSION SHALL REMAIN AS STATED IN THS DOCUMENT UNTIL IT EXPRIRES OR UNTIL A WRITTEN DETERMINATION ALTERING THE TERMS OF THIS DOCUMENT IS ISSUED. The Director of the Dane County Department of Administration shall hold a hearing within 30 days after receiving a request for reconsideration. The appellant shall be notified at least 10 days before the hearing. At the hearing, the appellant may be represented by counsel, may present evidence, and may call and examine witnesses and cross-examine witnesses of the other party. The Director of the Dane County Department of Administration shall follow the Rules of Evidence provided in the Wisconsin Statutes, 227.08, for administrative proceedings. Dane County staff shall record all of the proceedings on tape. Within 30 days of the completion of the hearing, the Director of the Dane County Department of Administration shall issue a written decision stating the reasons therefore. The Director of the Dane County Department of Administration shall have the power to affirm or reverse the written determination or to remand it to the Dane County Risk Manager with instructions for reconsideration.

PASSED: They substituted the City-County Liaison as the person who review staff decisions before it goes to court. You still send the notice to the Department of Administration. The committee will hold the hearing.

Written Notice
PROPOSED: 4.4.5. The Dane County Risk Manager (and its designee) is authorized to request anyone who engages in repeat or severe violations of the building rules to leave the CCB and not return (except for official business) for a period of time. If the Dane County Risk Manager (or its designee) requests an individual to not return to the CCB for a period of time, then the Risk Manager (or its designee) should provide that individual with a written letter indicating the reasons for the decision and the process for appealing the decision, The Dane County Risk Manager will email a copy of the letter to the Director of the Dane County Department of Administration and all members of the City/County Liaison Committee along with a description of the individual involved.

PASSED: They changed letter to written notice because most of the people they are concerned about would be able to be mailed a letter as they have no address to they will hand deliver the notices.

Loitering outside the building
CURRENT LANGUAGE: 6.7. Loitering is prohibited in the CCB. Loitering includes being in the building after normal work hours without any apparent official City/County business.

PASSED: They made it clear that loitering is allowed outside the building. They changed “in” to “inside”.

Disorderly Conduct
PROPOSED: 6.1. No engaging in any physically intimidating or assaultive behavior or making any threats of violence or unlawful activities. (The CCB has a policy of zero tolerance for threats and acts of violence; any person engaging in such behaviors will be requested to leave immediately).

6.3. No engaging in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under such circumstances as the disorderly conduct causes, provokes, or tends to cause or provoke a disturbance.

PASSED: They eliminated language in 6.1 because it was redundant and 6.3 was the language from the disorderly conduct ordinance.

Other General Comments
NEW/CLARIFICATION: These rules are to be enforced when the building is open, by the Risk Manager. When the building is closed and outside, that is for the police to enforce. The risk manager originally thought that the rules applied to people sleeping outside the building too because the smoking rules were in the policies, but they decided that these rules were just for inside. This will not solve the problem of people being noisy outside city offices.

NEW: They agreed to come back and revisit the language for redundancies and inconsistencies. They noted that it was odd to require shoes and shirts in the building, but not pants. Thanks for pointing that out Alder Palm.

NEW: The notice that is given out when people are being disciplined will include language about services that are available.

Other New Language
PROPOSED: 4.1.5. All CCB staff are authorized to call 911 and request the Madison Police Department respond to any conduct that threatens the life or safety of any person or that is damaging to property, equipment or facilities. Minor violations of the building rules may result in CCB staff attempting to educate or warn individuals about the policies before enforcing such policies. If an individual does not correct the minor violation, then staff should contact the Dane County Risk Manager.

PASSED: Language as proposed. Sally Miley had a concern about staff confronting people without having the proper training. They said staff were allowed to confront them, but not required. I’m not sure people felt good about this one, but nothing was proposed. No one said it, but I think they were concerned about overzealous staff.

The Homeless Issues Committee recommended that when it is below 32 degrees outside, that since the building was open at the Wilson St. Entrance that if people were following the rules they could be there. That failed, however, since the Risk Manager won’t be there, he can’t enforce the rules . . . so I’m not sure what this all means anyways. This was vehemently opposed by Sally Miley from the Mayors office, in the name of “security” of the building. And of course, she noted, there were no restrooms available at that time . . . but there could be if they wanted. This was the only abstention during the meeting – from Captain Gloede.

They didn’t create a definition of “official business” in the building, noting that open meetings laws require the meetings to be open to the public and even if people were banned, they could attend public meetings and come to the building to conduct business, so they thought that was covered.

Liar, liar pants on fire award
Lynn Green actually said in the meeting that there was a homeless advocate in the building “most of the time”. Later, after Matt Veldran sought to clarify that, she backed off and said that they are here occasionally. The homeless outreach worker sitting next to me, asked me who she was and what she was talking about. When I said she was the Director of Human Services I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes. The person handed Green her card after the meeting and introduced herself – she was standing next to me, so she probably was immediately written off – but really, its not someone I talk with regularly, so I hope that wasn’t the case.

- There was a concern raised about kicking someone out of a meeting who was disruptive – they thought that was covered elsewhere.
- I raised these issues about how staff would be treated. Risk Manager said there were other rules to cover them and that he wouldn’t have to deal with that, their supervisor would. Others thought that they applied to everyone equally. Palm asked what happened if staff got banned, people said that if they were there to work it would be “official business”.
- There was a suggestion of putting an outreach worker in the lobby- they said they had no money to pay for it.
- There was concern about how people would know about all these new rules. They would put them on the web, one of the supervisors suggested that the advocates in the room tell the people in the lobby. Others thought the homeless outreach workers should educate the people in the building.

One of the questions I asked is if I swear and laugh real loud in the hallway, would I be kicked out in the same way that the homeless people would. How would the rules be enforced equally. Ironically, after the meeting, a bunch of us were in the hallway and staff came out to tell us to be quiet. I wonder where that falls on the matrix, would that have been my first warning – along with the elected officials and committee members that I was talking to?

Thank you
I’d like to thank the committee members for being reasonable and coming up with reasonable, rational solutions. The people there last night – the white man brigade until some of the homeless issues committee members showed up at 5:15 when the staff originally told them the meeting would be – were as follows: Supervisor Al Matano (CCLC), Uly Williams (HIC), Alder Marsha Rummel(HIC), Sally Miley (CCLC), Captain Carl Gloede (HIC), Supervisor Matt Veldran (CCLC), Supervisor Paul Rusk (CCLC), Alder Mark Clear (CCLC), Michael Basford (HIC), Jeff Kosetelic (CCLC), Heidi Wegleitner (HIC), Supervisor Nick Zweifel (HIC), Supervisor Leland Pan (HIC), Alder Resnick (CCLC) . . . and I hope I didn’t miss anyone. If I did, it was one of the white guys . . . sorry, you all look the same to me. (just kidding!!! :) ) Seriously, you all did a good job last night, thank you. Now lets see what staff does with it. The rules are reasonable if they are enforced reasonably.

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