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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dane County (Wisconsin) Sheriff Dave Mahoney E-Mails Me (Update - Bullets Found At Wisconsin Gov't Bldgs)

I ran a post yesterday regarding the decision by Dane County, Wisconsin, Sheriff Dave Mahoney to pull his deputies from guarding the doors to the Wisconsin State Capitol, More Police Insurrection In Madison.

In comments that received a lot of attention, Sheriff Mahoney used the term "palace guards" in explaining his decision:
"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."
Sheriff Mahoney has e-mailed me.  Here is his e-mail in full (emphasis mine):
Mr. Jacobson,

I write only after having been directed to your website by John **** [name deleted by me]  from Virginia. I write only to correct an inaccuracy in the article, specifically that I pulled deputy sheriff's from guarding the WI Capitol. I did state that deputies would not guard locked doors as palace guards and we will disagree whether that was proper, but the deputies were assigned to continue walking the terrace and sidewalk surrounding the capitol, the same duty they have been assigned to for the past 19 days, 24 hours each day, and the duty they will continue until relieved or the request for assistance from WI Capitol Police ends. I would also like to point out that the incident involving Senator Glenn Grothman only occurred because not one law enforcement agency working at the capitol was made aware of his impromptu press conference during which a crowd gathered. I might point out as well, the senator was assisted at the conclusion of his press conference by non-other than Dane County Deputy Sheriff's.
I take the service to our citizens very seriously, that is every one of them, those that support and those who oppose the bill being introduced. The men and women of law enforcement have served our state well. During 19 days of protest and demonstrations not one individual has been hurt or injured and not one incident or confrontation has broke out, contrary to fabricated reports, because, law enforcement has done collectively what they are charged with doing-providing public safety!

I understand we will disagree politically, that's fine it's the American way, I also understand that as a blogger accuracy in content is not required but I ask that an attempt be made to try.

Dave Mahoney
Some thoughts about the e-mail. 

First, Sheriff Mahoney wanted to clarify that Sheriff's deputies had not been pulled completely from the Capitol grounds, only from "locked doors." Sheriff Mahoney's original statement, however, did not make the distinction that he only was pulling guards from locked doors and not more general security duty at the entrances.  I'm not sure why deputies would be needed at locked doors, unless it were to prevent protesters from opening the doors for uncontrolled access to the inside of the Capitol.  The question remains as to whether the removal of his deputies was in defiance of the request of the people who had legal control of the building.

Second, Sheriff Mahoney seems to recognize that the use of the term "palace guards" was controversial, but does not step back from it.  Instead, Sheriff Mahoney simply says "we will disagree whether that was proper," which I interpret as an indication Sheriff Mahoney is standing by the phrase.

Third, in response to the e-mail, I asked Sheriff Mahoney to identify the "fabricated reports" to which he was referring, but have not heard back from him. I will post his response if and when I receive it.

Does the e-mail change your view of what happened?

Update 3:40:  A few minutes after turning the post live, I received the following from Sheriff Mahoney in response to my question about "fabricated reports" (emphasis mine):
"I have watched several reports on FOX News reporting violence breaking out during the WI protests, I can tell you that it is not happening. I sit in executive level briefings everyday where additional reports are discussed to ensure they can be confirmed or disproven. So you understand I'm not trying to keep information form [sic] you, this morning as deputies reported to work at the capitol a dpeuty [sic] found 11 .22 caliber rounds outside the capitol and law enforcement has been finding additional rounds in various government buildings all day."
The reports of the bullets is just being reported at this drafting.

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  1. Not in the least. In addition to the reasons you outline, what is most surprising to me is that he ends his email by proudly telling you exactly where he stands politically: "I understand we will disagree politically, that's fine it's the American way...". So he's letting the world know exactly which side he is on. No attempt whatsoever to even give the impression of any neutrality on the issue. Can someone like that really perform his duties in a neutral fashion? I wouldn't want to be a law-breaking pro-Walker protester in his town to find out.

  2. Professor: from the Wisconsin State Capitol's own web site:

    "The best way to experience the beauty and grandeur of Wisconsin's Capitol building is to see it for yourself. It is open to the public weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m."

    I understand that a judge ruled that the Capitol should remain open to the public during "business hours and when hearings are taking place."

    Perhaps you can ask the Sheriff why he is not enforcing the "business hours" of the Wisconsin State Capital as clearly outlined on the Capitol's own web site and which was there the very day he started allowing squatters to little the rotunda?

    No one has address that issue, the issue of the Sheriff's department, along with the Capitol Police, not clearing out the Capitol as he should.

    Or does union membership trump following rules in Wisconsin?

  3. The integrity of law enforcement is one of the most important factors separating us from lesser countries. I really hope union membership doesn't cloud their thinking.

  4. I am impressed he took the time to reply, what with everything else going on and all. And I note without comment his grammatical and spelling gaffes.

    That said, he is an ultra-liberal leaning elected official in an ultra-liberal leaning county, so his views are no surprise. Wisconsin's version of "mutual aid" laws may allow him to pick and choose his department's aid assignments, but I doubt it. I think he blew it and his continued use of the term "palace guard" is indicative of his ethical limitations and judgment.

    He is simply an elected goon, in my book.

  5. At least, good for Sheriff Mahoney for responding and attempting, though not quite achieving, a dispassionately neutral, civic-minded kind of tone we'd all feel more comfortable hearing from law officers making public statements in tension-fraught situations.

    He couldn't resist, however, a snarky "...I also understand that as a blogger accuracy in content is not required..." which is eye-rollingly ridiculous to those of us who look to reputable sites on the net (Legal Insurrection et al.) to get the truth out and self-correct on facts and clearly stated opinion, as apposite, to counter traditional big media embedded, OK screaming, bias.

    Also, who anywhere would believe a self-admitted partisn would reference "palace doors" of the Capitol Building were a Democrat Gov and Legislature in office? And what is wrong with guarding locked dooors? If the situation is such that all doors must remain operable from the inside per fire code provisions, of course they should be watched by police or deputies to ensure they're not propped open for uncontrolled access given the potential for unlawful behavior at an emotionally charged protest. Or, perhaps the Sheriff can assure the State of Wisconsin that lax security of the building's points of egress will not result in a tragic event?

    That said, Mahoney made an attempt to explain his statement and without overt vitriol, which is more than most partisan actors bother doing. To include some on the Right (side of things, except civility :))

  6. "I have watched several reports on FOX News reporting violence breaking out during the WI protests, I can tell you that it is not happening. I sit in executive level briefings everyday where additional reports are discussed to ensure they can be confirmed or disproven."

    I suppose if it isn't mentioned at an executive level briefing than it didn't happen. Damn the video evidence showing otherwise.

  7. It is very hard to parse Mahoney's statements. He is essentially defending himself with attitude rather than with logic and facts. His attitude seems to be that you are a Republican(?) and he is a Democrat(?) and being self-explanatory, that should suffice.

    How about explaining why there was no effort by security to provide safe access and egress by the senators to and from the capitol building? What exactly were those sheriffs assigned to patrol the sidewalks around the capitol there for? Were they just assigned to walk so many steps per shift? Were they only expected to react by appointment? Were they only doing the very minimum to avoid any blame if anything happened?

    A professional security force is pro-active. Mahoney sounds more like those "innocent" Mafia wiseguys: "What? Me? What did I do? I ain't done nuttin' to nobody! I was just standin' around doin' nuttin'!"

  8. "I have watched several reports on FOX News reporting violence breaking out during the WI protests, I can tell you that it is not happening"

    Having been "Boots on the Ground" in Madison, I can assure you he is either lying or incompetent.

  9. "...not one incident or confrontation has broke out, contrary to fabricated reports..."

    It is likely the sheriff does not consider incidents significant absent bloodshed. (so far)

    Bullets are being left as threats. This is consistent with union intimidation tactics.

  10. Wow, impressive that he took time to write to Jacobson whilst in the midst of a lengthy event that was unexpected and has placed incredible demands on his department.

    But this isn’t enough? He is writing to correct what he understands to be a smear. Just how gracious do you expect him to be?

    Also, isn't it petty to [sic] his errors? After all, the man is a cop not a lawyer. He doesn't write for a living. Should we be invited to feel superior because we usually remember to spell-check? So what if he transposed some letters in what was probably a last minute edit. If you are going to make marks in his email, why not just correct the spelling. That’s what reporters do.

    Oh course, it’s clear why. This is evidence of his ‘goon-ness.” Gees, and I’ve read that Democrats are elitist.

  11. Why is it that so many of the political class - either of the Right or Left - don't seem to realize that we live in the era of the video camera and the cell phone camera? Assuming that just becomes something doesn't show up on the 6 O'Clock News, it didn't happen, or no one knows about it if it did, is so 90's.

  12. Unless employed as an editor, it is considered ill-mannered and dishonest to change the spelling and grammatical work of others. Reporters don't routinely do so, either. When the verbiage is repeated in subsequent work the proper thing to do is [sic] it lest the error be lain at the re-publisher's feet. I can't read the professor's mind but any "elitism" you think you saw might only exist in your own head.

  13. Bill, I haven't followed this in anything like the depth that you have, but:

    1. I give Sheriff Mahoney credit for taking time to contact you during these extraordinary circumstances. It seems like a conscientious and proactive gesture which might help defuse a tense environment: a tense environment which some on both sides do not want defused.

    Afaic his gesture warrants acknowledgment and reciprocity (with the disclaimer that they should not be taken as agreement).

    2. Here is his campaign biography. On a standalone basis it seems very creditable. (I haven't checked what Mahoney's opponents have to say about him.)

    3. Presumably a county sheriff has some discretion about how to perform his duties. I probably wouldn't agree with how Mahoney exercises his discretion, but so far I see nothing that seems beyond the pale...nothing that makes me withdraw the benefit of the doubt to which the authorities are entitled during a crisis.

  14. It's true that the Madison protesters have been almost as peaceful as the Tea Party protesters. I wonder what the good sheriff's thoughts are on the fabricated news reports regarding the Tea Party.

  15. Wow. From the last article linked: "Moments before issuing the order, scores of protesters managed to push past police blocking the State Street door...

    Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs also urged the group to leave, saying "I am asking you as a person to leave. I don't want to arrest anyone."...

    Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said it will cost $6 million to restore the interior of the Capitol, including removing all the tape from the marble where thousands of fliers and posters have hung since the protests began Feb. 14 and 15. Huebsch estimated it would cost an additional $1 million to restore the exterior."

  16. Amazing how multiple videos of assault and battery qualifies as "peaceful".

    I guess the left is holding onto the "peaceful" line until there's blood shed. Then they'll play the "provocateur" card.

    (Actually, they're already making that claim in regards the .22 rounds some idiot fleebagger dumped around the capitol.)

  17. Not a whit. He refused a request by the state to guard the capital and in doing so he insulted the state and the capital. He has compromised himself and his deputies by not only these remarks, but others he has made. He should apologise to the people of Wisconsin for his derogatory remarks.

  18. Every time I try to go to the links about the bullets the articles are no longer there....it's a different story on every link I have seen...
    Sorry, the sheriff is being an arrogant partisan jerk. The reference to Fox was a talking point he made sure he got out there for partisan purposes. He needs to lose his job. How can a sheriff say there is no violence when it's right in front of his eyes on video? How can he ever be trusted to do his job if he can't admit what violence is? He's picking his definition of violence based on partisanship...which means different standards of punishment for different people...which is exactly why public officials shouldn't be unionized. This sheriff is breaking the law while a sheriff in Arizona is considered the devil for following the law.....the left is truly insane.

  19. And just wait...when the Dem Senators come back I bet they have a police escort and police bodyguards

  20. The Sheriff damaged his credibility with his "palace guard" snark. How long that cred-problem lasts is up to him.

    From an OUTSIDER'S point of view (but as a resident of the State) it seems that the lines of authority in this event are very messy. The Governor gives very general direction--and that has been to 'go easy' on the flotsam/jetsam using the Capitol building as a home (and toilet, too.)

    The State's Director of Administration is of like mind with the GOvernor. Then the real mess begins. The Capitol Police Chief would seem to be "in-charge" of all policing matters in and immediately surrounding the Capitol. OTOH, the Dane County Sheriff also has primary jurisdiction over the area (excluding the Capitol grounds.)

    So Mahoney kinda serves two masters here.

    IMHO, the Governor may have erred in his 'go easy' approach, but at the same time, the Governor knows that his Administration will be sued for any miniscule violation of typical Capitol entry/exit policy.

    Sum: Mahoney has a "two-master" problem which he compounded by opening his mouth. He prolly learned something there.

  21. Looks like we have another Sheriff Dupnik here.

  22. LOL. Do any of you live in Madison? Have you ever been in the Capitol? Please refrain from commenting on the ground situation unless you've actually been here the last 3 weeks. We have a state constitutional crisis -- clearly the building never should have been closed. It was open evenings the first week or two because there were testimonies in session. People were speaking around the clock, two minutes each. People occupying the Capitol were perfectly willing to be arrested after that, should the local law authorities chosen to have removed them. It would have been an issue, though, given their selective enforcement (and obedience to) laws, such as those forbidding the use of state police for political ends. Walker's sending out state troopers after sitting representatives who have broken no laws was also clearly illegal.

    Anyway, either come down to the Capitol and walk the grounds with one of the protest marshals, or please go back to talking about situations in which you actually have firsthand experience.

  23. Ummmm Kurt, in a word, NO! I WON'T DO AS YOU ASK. I don't have to visit Madison WI to understand that your state government and its elected leaders are under assault by violent communists, union thugs, and other totalitarian groups. The PEOPLE of your state held a free, fair, and democratic election. The result, however you choose to characterize it, is a democratic one and consistent with a constitutional and republican form of government. A well organized MOB, in other words, is trying to thwart the will of the PEOPLE. In this country, my friend, GOVERNMENTAL SOVEREIGNTY LIES WITH THE PEOPLE AND THE PEOPLE ALONE THROUGH THEIR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES. THEREFORE, YOU'D BE WELL ADVISED TO ABANDON YOUR ATTEMPTS TO OVERTHROW THE STATE GOVERNMENT THROUGH THREATS OF VIOLENCE BEFORE YOU ARE ALL CHARGED WITH SEDITION OR WORSE.