If the Common Council follows its attorney’s recommendation.
Blaska is about to win his law suit against the City of Madison, unless the Common Council chickens out. The City is poised to acknowledge that it impermissibly based membership on the Police Civilian Oversight Board (PCOB) by race, as we alleged in our lawsuit in federal court:
The City’s racial classifications — enshrined in city law and the official policy of the City — are unconstitutional, offensive, and repugnant to basic American values. At the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial [class].”
As an add-on to the ordinance, the council adopted as a resolution an alder work group report recommending half the PCOB’s membership be African-American. The three alders writing that report were Shiva Bidar, Donna Moreland, and Rebecca Kemble. All three progressives have since moved on from the Common Council.
Mayor Satya and five alders propose to amend Ordinance 5.20 to eliminate the racial requirement. As part of the settlement, the City will pay the $46,000 costs of our attorney at the Wisconsin Institute of Law & Liberty (Daniel Lennington), and to pay the claimant $100. City taxpayers are also on the hook for the private lawyer it hired from the Boardman Clark law firm, Amanda Kaiser.
The amendment will be introduced Tuesday’s 04-19-22 Common Council meeting and likely scheduled for discussion at the
05-03-22 05-10-22 meeting (where it may be referred to committee). It is agenda item #120. You will note the lack of details at the link, probably due to the contested legal nature of the matter.
The rewritten ordinance that we have seen putatively abolishes quotas but dances around the issue by suggesting membership “from a diverse background, including but not limited to … African American, Asian, Latinx, Native American; and LGBTQ.” No neighborhood association presidents, no shopkeepers, no Republicans. No Norwegians, for that matter. So it’s not total victory, unfortunately. But it’s a blow against identity politics.
As a practical matter, there’s nothing to stop the mayor and council from appointing the same individuals, alleging their appointments this time were race neutral — honest! Joe Biden can promise to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court (not that he is a biologist) but it least he was not statutorily mandated. That is not why we fought the Civil War or Jim Crow.
We would prefer the current PCOB to be disbanded and its membership reconstituted, given that it is the tainted fruit of an illegal racial quota. The city’s lawyer cites as exculpatory — get this! — the agency’s incompetence! The city argues that the terms of 5 of the 13 members expire in September and that “As of this time, the current board … has taken essentially no substantive action.”
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Got that right. The PCOB has been meeting for a year and a half. They’ve managed to get their pronouns straight, ask for more pay, and offer the $120,000/year job of police monitor to a man accused of sexual discrimination. We have said from the beginning, the Police Civilian Oversight Board is the wrong solution to a non-existent problem. As today’s student melee at Sherman middle school proves.