Posts tagged “WPPA

Justifying the unjustifiable: the Cancer Killing Wisconsin Politics

Over the course of the past week, I received a communication from an individual—a person I will not name—who is associated with the Milwaukee County DA’s office.  Based on some terse, yet pointed comments that I have made, this individual wanted to know why I wasn’t standing with assistant district attorneys by supporting the recall of Gov. Scott Walker.  Apparently in possession of the Barrett campaign’s talking-points memo regarding the mayor’s failure to obtain the endorsement of the labor union representing his city’s rank-and-file police officers, this person said “residency” was the only reason that the Milwaukee Police Association has endorsed Gov. Walker in the recall election.

To set the record straight, neither I nor anyone else affiliated with SF have publicly endorsed any candidate in the recall election.  In the past, I have taken the Wisconsin Professional Police Officers Association (WPPA) to task when their members identified themselves as public officials, and then cited their agencies, while making partisan political statements. I have also criticized the WPPA’s executive director, Jim Palmer, for signing a letter threatening a Milwaukee business leader with a boycott unless this citizen renounced his First Amendment right to support Gov. Walker.

http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/spingolafiles/2011/03/13/letter-from-state-police-union-executive-draws-fire/

Moreover, anyone who has taken a few minutes to view the contents of this Web site would quickly realize that the Spingola Files has a noticeable libertarian bent when it comes to matters of government surveillance—hardly an issue championed by neo-cons and right-wingers.

Back to the comments of the person associated with the Milwaukee County DA’s office.

Since I retired from the Milwaukee Police Department and now reside outside Milwaukee County, residency is not an issue that affects me. 

I do throw an occasional dart, however, when hypocrisy raises its ugly head.

So why is it then that Darlene Wink, a former low-level aide to then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, was charged and convicted for campaigning on government time while using a taxpayer funded computer network, while the anti-Walker folks (particularly this person associated with the Milwaukee County DA’s office) downplay e-mails sent by Kris Barrett, Mayor Barrett’s wife, advocating political action during her tenure as a teacher for the Milwaukee Public Schools?

This type of attitude—that the misconduct of a particular individual should be marginalized as long as this person is ‘on our side’ politically—is the cancer that is killing Wisconsin politics.

After all, there are a plethora of reasons why rank-and-file Milwaukee police officers would vote against Barrett and the Democrats. 

Just a few years ago, former Governor Jim Doyle and his Democrat Party cohorts in the state legislature—with the support of Mayor Barrett—changed state law, which now gives the chief-of-police in the city of Milwaukee the authority to subjectively and arbitrary fire an officer for a rule violation, while denying this officer his or her pay absent a due process hearing with the Fire and Police Commission.   In every other jurisdiction in the state of Wisconsin, a police chief can only recommend termination, at which time an officer continues to be paid until the charges against him or her are substantiated by an oversight board.  

Furthermore, Doyle and Democrats in the legislature, specifically those from the Milwaukee delegation that should know better, granted early release to thousands of felons from Wisconsin prisons.  Almost half of these felons reside in one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties—Milwaukee, which means, unlike the vast majority of the rank-and-file officers represented by the WPPA, Milwaukee police officers bore the brunt of the Democrats so-called criminal justice reforms.

And, of course, I related these points to the person associated with the Milwaukee County DA’s office, who basically, in not so many words, accused me of being a sellout for simply pointing out the hypocrisy of those poo-pooing Kris Barrett’s taxpayer funded use of a computer network for political action purposes, but have yet to receive a reply.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4bI5ddrg9A

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

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

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


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.

 http://fox6now.com/2012/04/09/afscme-video-attacking-tom-barrett-was-over-the-top/

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.

http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/spingolafiles/2011/03/13/letter-from-state-police-union-executive-draws-fire/

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.

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/capitol-report/capitol-report-milwaukee-public-safety-unions-again-endorse-walker/article_6f06c8f4-7d08-11e1-907d-0019bb2963f4.html

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.

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

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

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 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. 

 http://www.620wtmj.com/shows/charliesykes/117764004.html?blog=y&page=2

“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.

http://www.beloitdailynews.com/articles/2010/05/05/news/wisconsin_news/wis503.txt

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. 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fCm6JcOMuM

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 .

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

© Steve Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011