The State Capitol was like a law enforcement convention Tuesday. I arrived at the hearing to find police of all shapes, sizes and badges patrolling the ground and the corridors. I didn't waste time taking a complete inventory, but the security force included Capitol police, DNR wardens, Wisconsin State Patrol officers, Madison police and probably others no doubt including plain clothes security.

Almost all of the police I encountered were polite and in some cases seemingly chagrined, but one female officer took a look at me, in my shirt and tie and backpack, and for some reason immediately decided I was a suspicious character. She was cross and demanding, and I had to patiently explain I'd lost my way into a secure area while (badly) following directions to the bathroom. A legislative aide interceded and cooled the situation down.

At least, representatives of some police and firefighter unions testified and carried protest signs in support of fellow public employees who -- unlike them -- would be busted by Walker's sweeping legislation.

Two other observations about the police presence:

*  If I was a poacher, this would be the week to go hunting in Wisconsin, given all the DNR wardens in the Capitol doing guard duty.

* An anonymous State Patrol officer cited Wisconsin State Statute 110.07(2m) which says in part that, "No state traffic officer shall be used in or take part in any dispute or controversy between employer or employee concerning wages, hours, labor or working conditions... ."

Aware of this, many of the state troopers who were ordered to mobilize this week in response to protests at the Capitol reportedly voiced strenuous objections to their managers. They were ordered to deploy regardless, without any rationale being offered for why the statute might not be applicable in this instance.

But what are a few violations of state law here and there when you're a besieged governor trying to undo the peoples' work?

Blogger Jesse Russell has more on that. Go to:


February 16, 2011 - 10:07am