Posts tagged “Jesse Jackson

Two Major Police Unions Make Endorsements in State-Wide Recall

With this summer’s state-wide recall elections quickly approaching, two major police unions have made their endorsements in the race for governor.

The Wisconsin Professional Police Officers Association (WPPA), an umbrella group that represents officers from smaller police agencies, has endorsed Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  This is an interesting decision, especially since Barrett figuratively put a gun to the leadership of the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA)—a group whose members were exempted from Gov. Walker’s Act 10 budget repair bill—and threatened furlough days for Milwaukee police officers if they refused  to accept Act 10 provisions.

So how can Barrett advocate for the repeal of Act 10 and then demand than his city’s police officers, who received an exemption, comply with the provisions of this act for the purposes of trimming millions of dollars from the City of Milwaukee’s budget?

“At a news conference at WPPA headquarters,” Real Clear Politics reports, “Barrett insisted he supports collective bargaining rights for all public workers. He said he made the request to expand the law to Milwaukee police and firefighters because he realized Walker was trying to “divide and conquer” public workers and he couldn’t afford to pit city workers against one other.”

But other labor leaders are suspicious of Barrett, as they believe the mayor gladly used the provisions of Gov. Walker’s budget repair bill. One of the state’s largest public employee unions released a video highly critical of the Milwaukee mayor.

Moreover, one has to challenge the wisdom of Jim Palmer, the current WPPA Executive Director.  Why would a police union endorse Barrett—a politician who insists that police officers, who received an exemption from Act 10 by Gov. Walker, lose their exemption?  Why not endorse Kathleen Falk, who has made a quid pro quo deal with state unions to repeal Act 10 or support Gov. Walker, who exempted Palmer’s members from Act 10?

Some of you might recall that Palmer from this prior SF post.

On the other side of the coin, the two public safety unions that know Barrett best—the Milwaukee Police Association and the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association—have endorsed Gov. Walker.

“Gov. Walker has a strong record of supporting public safety with an unwavering commitment to first responders,” said Michael Crivello, president of the Milwaukee Police Association.

As the recall election quickly approaches, it remains to be seen how these law enforcement endorsements will affect the outcome.  However, if the last state Supreme Court race is a barometer, a few hundred votes might decide who wins or loses.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

Don’t Blame “the Gun” in Trayvon’s Death; Blame the Hucksters

Like a spectator at a gladiator fight in the Roman coliseum, I have sat back and watched the finger-pointing unfold in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. 

With his budget shot down 414-0 in the House of Representatives, his approval numbers in free fall, and a portion of his health care legislation of the verge of being ruled unconstitutional, President Obama wasted little time weighing in on Martin’s tragic death, even though the federal government arguably has no jurisdiction in the matter.  

And, of course, the usual suspects—Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton—could hardly resist jumping into the fray. Jackson would rather talk about an unjustifiable intervention by a self-declared neighborhood watch captain than a love child.[1]  While Sharpton—damaged goods in the minds of many after the Tawana Brawley debacle—is always on the lookout for ways to raise his profile.[2]

It is, however, the recent remarks of Bill Cosby—a celebrity whose candid comments regarding bigotry and personal responsibility have opened a dialogue on race relations—that are, unpredictably, off base. 

Yesterday, Washington Times columnist Deborah Simmons noted that Cosby believes that “the gun” was the impetus for Trayvon Martin’s death.

“We’ve got to get the gun out of the hands of people who are supposed to be on neighborhood watch,” Cosby told Simmons.[3]

True, guns do not belong in the hands of some people. Individuals convicted of felonies and/or domestic violence, those abusing drugs, and persons suffering from mental health issues are ticking time bombs when a firearm is figured-in to the equation.  

Yet if Cosby had taken the time to research the background of the shooter, he might conclude that, had the system done its job, “the gun,” at least lawfully, would not be an issue.

“Charged with resisting arrest without violence,” in July 2005, the Los Angeles Times reported, “he [Zimmerman] avoided conviction by entering a pretrial-diversion program, something common for first-time offenders.”[4]

Zimmerman’s former girlfriend also filed a domestic violence injunction against him. Zimmerman countered with his own injunction, although it appears the police did not investigate.[5]

Had the system done its job by placing Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, on an extended period of probation for the incident outside a central Florida night spot, the court, in all likelihood, would have prohibited him from possessing firearms while serving his sentence.

Ironically, Jackson and Sharpton continually take the criminal justice system to task for its treatment of minority offenders—often times encouraging prosecutors to send those charged with acts of violence, such as fighting with law enforcement officers, into diversion programs.  

In the Zimmerman’s case, it appears that a Florida prosecutor bought-in to the charlatanism of the Jackson/Sharpton school of justice—the ugly results of which are now in plan view for all to see. 

Unfortunately, Bill Cosby chooses to blame “the gun” instead of Jackson and Sharpton—the hucksters of criminal justice diversion, who then go on to incite the populous when those sentenced to the same diversion programs they advocate for predictably reoffend.   

Some might call it a conspiracy of sorts, while others, rightfully, the revolving door of ignorance and the politics of self-pity.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012 


[1] “Jesse Jackson Confesses to Love Child,”  January 18, 2001.  7 April 2012.

[2] Kennedy, H. “Rev. Al Shrapton: I Won’t Apologize for Handling of Tawana Brawley Case.”  May 19, 2011.  7 April 2012.

[3] Simmons, D. “Simmons: Bill Cosby Weighs in on Trayvon Martin Case.” April 7, 2012.  8 April 2012.

[4] Muskal, M. “Trayvon Martin Case: George Zimmerman, Mystery Gunman.”  March 23, 2012.  8 April 2012.,0,6326075.story

[5] Sieczkowski, C. “Who is George Zimmerman? Florida Shooter has Checkered Past of ‘Vigilantism’ and Domestic Violence.”  March 23, 2012. 8 April 2012.

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