Posts tagged “Dave McClurg

Dane County Sheriff Gives Police Professionalism a Black Eye

In recent weeks, a group of left-wing activists, who call themselves “The Solidarity Singers,” have again decided to thumb their noses at the law by refusing to obtain a permit to illustrate their irrelevance by protesting in Wisconsin’s beautiful capitol rotunda.  Liberal narcissists—believing that their myopic opinions are somehow more enlightened than the majority of Wisconsin’s voters—trampling on rights of others, such as those seeking to get married in the rotunda, is nothing new.

More repugnant than Americans picking and choosing which laws they choose to obey is a high ranking law enforcement official injecting himself into the debate and using the color of his authority to run interference against the Capitol Police by siding, for political purposes, with the Solidarity Singers.

Conducting himself in a manner inconsistent with the concept of law enforcement professionalism, as well as own county’s ethics ordinance, is Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney.  Since 1979, when a bill approved by Democrats in the state legislature and signed by Republican Governor Lee Dreyfus became law, a FREE permit is required to hold rallies inside Wisconsin’s glorious state capitol.

But Sheriff Mahoney apparently is of the opinion that unlawful conduct is acceptable if the lawbreakers are on the left side of the fence politically.

In late July, Mahoney appeared in the Capitol Rotunda and proclaimed, “I’m here to join alongside the Solidarity Singers. This is an example of freedom of speech. It’s an example of people coming together in solidarity for what they believe in.”

Absolutely no one is preventing the Solidarity Singers from obtaining the permit needed to occupy and disrupt a facility where official government business is conducted, including weddings and tours for school children.

“The permit is free and the group could continue to say and sing the same things they are today,” said spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis, who, according to WISN radio, noted that the Capitol Police have stated they would approve a permit if the Solidarity Singers applied for one.

Then, on August 1, Sheriff Mahoney appeared on Mitch Henck’s WIBA-AM in an attempt to explain how he “isn’t on the side of the Solidarity Singers” and that he would “never encourage anyone to break the law.”


A hunch says that Sheriff Mahoney began getting blow back from the Capitol Police and others who truly believe in the concept of professional law enforcement. Ironically, the Dane County Sheriff boasts on his department’s official Web site  that, “We continue to make strides toward becoming the most professional, efficient, and cost effective agency employing progressive solutions to the ever-changing challenges facing our communities.”

In reality, by championing the cause of the Solidarity Singers and encouraging them to violate state law, one could make an argument that Sheriff Mahoney is in violation of Chapter Nine of Dane County ordinances that govern the ethical practices of elected officials.

Chapter 9.10 (1), STATEMENT OF POLICY, states, “The proper operation of democratic government requires that county officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible to the people…”

If Sheriff Mahoney chooses to violate the law and encourages others to do so, the Capitol Police should treat him like any other law breaker.   Wouldn’t it be more than just a little ironic if officers arrested Mahoney and then booked him into his own jail?

Moreover, Dane County residents upset with Sheriff Mahoney’s lack of professionalism might want to file a complaint with the Dane County Ethics Commission.

Unfortunately, law enforcement officials violating policy and/or ethical standards by using the color of their office for political purposes is nothing new in Dane County. On March 13, 2011, the Spingola Files reported that Madison Police Department Sergeant Dave McClurg openly identified himself as a Madison police official while siding with protestors who had unlawfully occupied the state capitol. Even though the below video of McClurg that openly violates Madison PD policy is still posted online, the sergeant—apparently championing a cause his police chief and city officials sympathize with—was NEVER disciplined.

Responding to criticism of his lack of professionalism, McClurg posted a March 20, 2011, reply at the Spingola Files pleading poverty by stating, in part, “I don’t know about any of you but I’m still struggling at times with three kids, one in college. I don’t feel like the one of the haves I work off duty to pay the bills.”

For struggling Americans, some of whom work from January through the middle of May each year simply to pay their tax obligations; McClurg’s comments illustrate the arrogance and the sense of entitlement of some public employees.  A database of City of Madison employees’ salaries shows that McClurg earned $94,274.22 in 2010 and $94,113.61 in 2012.  His wife is a public school teacher, which means the McClurgs’ employment earnings probably topped a $135,000—not to mention the generous health care and pension benefits often unavailable to the private sector employees who pay his family’s wages and benefits.

While the Mahoneys and McClurgs in the bizarro world of Madison (not to pick on Irish-Americans) have used the color of their office to influence political perceptions free of any official consequences, the taxpayers, many of whom earn only a third of what McClurg does, are taking notice.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

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© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Letter from State Police Union Executive Draws Fire

The consensus amongst several of SF’s readers is that James Palmer, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Officers Association (WPPA), is a man whose tactics have disgraced that organization’s rank-and-file members.

Palmer, and other so-called law enforcement professionals, drew the ire of some for sending a letter to Mr. Tom Ellis, the President of the Marshall and Ilsely (M&I) Corporation.

“As you also know,” Palmer writes in the letter to Ellis, “Scott Walker did not campaign on this issue [limiting collective bargaining for public employees] when he ran for office. If he had, we are confident that you would not be listed among his largest contributors.”

Then comes the quid pro quo shake down.

“The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin.  While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.

“In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company. However, if you join us, we will do everything in our power to publicly celebrate your partnership in the fight to preserve the right of public employees to be heard at the bargaining table.”

Palmer’s letter caused a collective gasp from many law enforcement veterans.

In fact, Glenn Frankovis, a retired Milwaukee Police Department captain, mentioned that several of his law enforcement contacts view Palmer’s threats as extortion. 

For the record, James Palmer is not and has never been a law enforcement officer.  Those familiar with the inner-workings of the WPPA describe Palmer as a dyed-in-the-wool Madison liberal and an ally of former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.

On February 5, 2009, Doyle appointed Palmer to the Higher Educational Aids Board.  Palmer also provided political cover by standing at Doyle’s side when the then governor announced an early release program for felons from Wisconsin prisons.   Since Milwaukee bore the brunt of the burden, Police Chief Ed Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett took issue with the state’s catch-and-release initiative.

Now Palmer’s letter to the M&I executive has law enforcement veterans questioning his ethics and his regard for the WPPA’s overall membership.

One current officer provided this behind-the-scenes view.  During a February 19, 2011, rally in Madison, the WPPA established a reception area at the Concourse Hotel on Dayton Street so that officers on break from capitol security could stop-in for food and water.  While at the reception area, Palmer was beaming after meeting the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  “He [Palmer],” according to the officer, “was clearly star-struck.”  

Another law enforcement veteran took issue with the content of Palmer’s letter to Ellis.

“Palmer et al were untruthful in their letter to Mr. Ellis. Police officers and fire fighters received an exception in the budget repair bill [from Gov. Walker].  Palmer appears more intent on turning the dues collected from WPPA members into a funding mechanism for the Democrat Party than in doing what is in the best interest of his members.”

Others noted the tactics used by Palmer and his fellow co-signers.  

“State and local union leaders blew it,” wrote another. “E-mails released by Walker show that he was willing to remove the cap on wages to get the missing 14 Democrat state senators back to the capitol to vote. Increases in wages would have off-set some of the required contributions to pensions and health care — a win for those in the state pension system, since retirement benefits are determined by averaging the highest three years of earnings.  Over time, continued wage hikes might increase pension payments several thousand dollars a year.  Instead, Mr. Palmer and the 14 Democrat senators listened to their masters from Organizing America.  This ploy resulted in the union workers being used as pawns while walking away from the table empty handed.”

“Palmer and the leaders of the local firefighter and police union in Madison,” another notes, “belong to a group of ingrates more interested in hocking the wares of the Democrats than protecting their members.”

And two weeks ago, John Balcerzak, the former president of the Milwaukee Police Association—the collective bargaining unit representing rank-and-file Milwaukee police officers and detectives—e-mailed WTMJ radio to distance sworn law enforcement officers from the WPPA executive director.  “Jim Palmer is not a police officer,” Balcerzak noted.  “He is a lawyer.”

As SF noted in an earlier post, during heated political discourse, labor unrest, or civil strife, law enforcement officers become the uniformed arbitrators of fairness.

One section of The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics reads, “I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions,” which is why some law enforcement veterans find a Youtube video of one Madison officer’s rants particularly troubling. 

Police Sergeant Dave McClurg pays homage to the protestors by identifying himself as an officer with the Madison Police Department.  Most law enforcement agencies have rules prohibiting their members from using their position to advance causes and/or political positions.  But McClurg, who portrays himself as a former Republican, conveniently fails to mention that he is the Vice President of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association—a group that openly opposes Walker’s budget repair bill.

Certainly, the political rift amongst law enforcement officers concerning the governor’s budget repair bill runs deep.  But politics aside, those who use questionable and unethical tactics should heed the words of our nation’s 16th president.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” 

WPPA Executive Director James Palmer and those who co-signed the letter to Tom Ellis have failed Honest Abe’s test miserably .


Steve Spingola is an author and former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective

© Steve Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011