cap_MG

Protesters gather at the Capitol building to fight against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill in March. Madison may not receive refunds for extra security costs because local officials a advocated the rallies.[/media-credit]

The state’s Joint Finance Committee suggested it might not reimburse the city of Madison or Dane County for expenses incurred during the Capitol protests last spring because local officials advocated on a partisan viewpoint that pushed the rallies onward.  

A statement from the JFC said operating decisions of the
Madison police during the protests were inappropriately affected by the
political leanings of high ranking members of the police department and the Mayor’s office.

“The comments and actions of (then) Mayor [Dave Cieslewicz], Police Chief Noble Wray, County Executive Kathleen Falk and Sheriff Dave Mahoney encouraged
the behavior of the siege participants in an attempt to achieve a partisan
political outcome in this government crisis,” the statement said.     

The requests were made by Madison and Dane County officials
to reimburse city and Capitol Police officers for their role in the protests of
last spring. 

Rep. Steven Nass, R-Whitewater, a member of
the JFC, said he believes the police administrators inappropriately relaxed their
officer policies during the protests.

A reimbursement bill for police
officers at the protests was originally sent to JFC from the Department of Administration.
This bill, he said, was inspected by members of the JFC, who found several “red
flags” that warranted the JFC’s request of specific reimbursement details of
the bill from the DOA.

“I am concretely certain that’s exactly what they did,” Nass
said. “Clearly, [the police officers] were siding with the protesters and they
were not going let them help. Quite frankly it was very unprofessional.”

These decisions made the protests a much more dangerous situation
and inflated the cost on the taxpayer, Nass said.

The accusations that police officers did not do a proper job of maintaining the protests, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said, is not only false but insulting to the administration and officers in the police department.      

“It’s very disappointing that they impugn the integrity of the most efficient police department in the state,” Soglin said. “It’s a denouncement of all law enforcement in the state.”

Among the JFC’s concerns was the bill’s request for reimbursement
to officers and official equipment into the months of May and June, which he
said appears to be a waste ofmoney considering the level to which protests had shrunk. 

Madison and Capitol police were only in the building for a handful
of days, Nass said, and remained primarily absent from the Capitol grounds and
rotunda for the majority of the protests. He said the city has overfilled the bill in order to get improper state
financing.

“[I believe] that the city of Madison has padded this bill,”
Nass said. “They saw a way to take advantage of tax payer dollars, and
they are taking that opportunity.”

Soglin said he did not know why the JFC had decided to reconsider the police officers’ reimbursement. The reimbursement plan was put forth by Cieslewicz’s office and has continued to be sought under Soglin’s office.

Solgin said the city would not concern itself with the
effect reimbursing the police officers would have on the city’s budget until the JFC decides what to do with the reimbursement requests. He said he is confident that the measure will
be approved.