Congratulations, people! We did it! A rare victory!
Your e-mails, your comments and your testimony persuaded the Madison Common Council to do the right thing and recompense Police Chief Koval for all of the $21,953 he ran up defending himself against laughably frivolous charges that he called someone acting like a raging lunatic “a raging lunatic.”
Incredibly, the vote was 15-4 to do the right thing. (With no room to spare. It needed 3/4ths of the council.) Who are the four hard-core haters? Say hello to Alds. Amanda Hall, Rebecca Kemble, Samba Baldeh, and Sheri Carter. (Ledell Zellers was absent.) Even Marsha Rummel voted aye!
The 15-4 vote is a small repudiation of the anti-police vendetta. A U-turn from two years of cop-bashing. If the Council had dunned Koval $6,352 as Kemble and Hall had proposed, it would encourage Progressive Dane and BLM to gin up more pettifoggery in their war of attrition. That a mere and accurate phrase, “She’s a raging lunatic,” could trigger months of quasi-judicial inquiry and political debate is Kafka-esque. An absurdity!
The people said “no more.” Ald. Matt Phair acknowledged that the vote would be seen as a referendum on police.
“As we heard tonight and heard from many e-mails Many members of the public are viewing this as a referendum on the chief. … Even though we can say it is not that, it will be perceived that way. A number of members of the public will perceive this as not supporting the chief.”
A good gaggle of citizens showed up at the chambers to use their three minutes to support Chief Koval — seven by my count, with an eighth registering in support but not speaking. That matched the usual suspects: Amelia and Nathan Royko-Mauer, Gregory Gobbledygook, and company.
Squire Blaska noted that “if you penalize Koval, you penalize the 450 sworn officers. Police Union leader Dan Frei told WIBA on Friday the police is 100% behind the chief.’ … So NOW you are talking about crime? For the last two years, you have been investigating the police.”
The irony, of course, is that the Council treated itself to a “What is to be Done?” gabfest on gun violence Tuesday night after two citywide shooting sprees in the last few days. Hello? Anybody home?
Richard Freyhoefer (hope I’ve spelled it right) gave the best talk. He was passionate:
“Our police chief is a gem. … We’re losing our town. I listen to the news: Shots fired, shots fired, people mugged on Sherman Avenue. … the average citizen is tired of it. … You can’t even get people off the intersections where they are begging? … How hard is it to pass something to clean this mess up and give us our downtown back?”
In the overlong debate, Ald. Mo Cheeks played his usual kumbaya: “It is essential for those who, for whatever reason, consider themselves to be the cheerleaders of the police chief, the folks who have sent us e-mail, that there isn’t an ‘us versus them.’ … So much of the conversation directed toward us was framed in the spirit of faction.”
Except, Alder Cheeks, for two years this council has been hectoring the police more assiduously than did the grieving grandma Sharon Irwin stalking Chief Koval down those city hall stairs. For two years it has allowed the Black Lives narrative stand: that being that Madison police are blood-thirsty, shoot-first racists.
You cannot name the alder who has stood with the police, save for Ald. Paul Skidmore. One out of 20!
I don’t feel safe with this Common Council.
The Squire gives the council holy hell (audio only 3:33)
Kevin Wymore and Steve Fitzsimmons testify (audio 3:48)
Richard Freyhoefer brings fire & brimstone (audio 2:14)
For extra credit — Doesn’t anyone on the Madison Common Council know parliamentary procedure? Ald Rummel, you chaired the meeting. After all these years on the council you must know that an alderman “calling the question” is meaningless without a second, in which case it takes 2/3ds vote because what you are doing is shutting off debate.