So, here’s how Marklein’s “normal legislative process” works: popular, well-crafted, bipartisan reforms get squanched by republican leadership in favor of unpopular, slip-shod, and logistically impracticable bills designed as veto-bait to rile up the party’s base with racially coded messaging. Calling that “good” is hilarious. Howard Marklein wins king of comedy in this session.
On Thursday June 10, the budget of Wisconsin’s prison system (DOC) went before the joint finance committee and, despite statements of broad bipartisan support for shrinking the system, lawmakers passed a budget that expands prisons and will kill people. The atmosphere was one of jovial comradery as issues of life and death were raised, silenced, and voted on.
This legislature is so gerrymandered, broken, and corrupt that even members of the ruling party can’t help but make jokes at their own expense. Apparently there was some kind of dysfunction going on with republican members of the committee. They delayed their June 8 session more than 5 hours and started Thursday’s session 90 minutes late. Even then, all of the republican senators other than the senate chair, Howard Marklein (r- Spring Green) failed to appear, prompting Jon Erpenbach (d- Madison suburbs) to jokingly remark “I don’t know what you did to your team, Howard,” during roll call. Marklein laughed and joked back: “I’ll need your vote, Erpenbach.” Everyone laughed.
This article is part four of a series on legislation to create snitch houses, also known as “COP houses” across Wisconsin.
While advocating for snitch houses, senator Taylor made backroom deals with the republican establishment. She says she’s looking for community houses that provide wrap-around services, but what’s actually happening is police are taking control of resources and services, while expanding their role in society.
In early May, SB124 and AB258 were amended to remove the appropriation of grant funding, expand eligibility requirements to include smaller cities, and add a few usage specifications. Kelda Roys was the sole vote against this amendment in the senate committee, but she ultimately ended up voting in favor of the bill. During the May 18 assembly committee hearing, Mark Spreitzer asked the senators, “why [they] took the money out of the bill […] is it going to be a two year thing, or ongoing?
This article is part three in our series on legislation to create snitch houses, also known as “COP houses” across Wisconsin.
In the last article we showed how putting a snitch house in a targeted area reduces crime in that specific area, but increases economic and emotional strain for targeted residents. People experiencing stress are more likely to resort to crime, they just go somewhere further from police presence to do it.
At the May 18 hearing, committee member Sue S Conley, a democrat whose district borders zigzag tightly around Janesville, making the neighboring districts more solidly republican, recognized this dynamic. “You come into a neighborhood,” she said, “you establish the house […] did the problem just shift to another neighborhood?” Van Wanggaard’s response was a gleeful “sometimes,” but Taylor cut him off with a more diplomatic response that acknowledged the real problem. She went onto a tangent about drug dealers operating out of their cars rather than drug houses to be more mobile. Her statement reinforced, rather than allaying, Conley’s concern. Then Wanggaard burst back in with a great real-life example.
This is part two of our series on the legislation to create snitch houses, also known as “COP houses” across Wisconsin.
At the May 18 hearing, senator Van Wanggaard introduced the snitch house bill by portraying it as an attempt at police reform. “The police cannot be an occupying force in an area,” he emphatically stated. But, throughout his testimony, when describing how snitch houses work, his reformist mask slipped. He described police using snitch houses to “take over” and “gain control” of areas, exactly as an occupying force would. The reality that he, a former cop, cannot grapple with, is that police are always an occupying force in the neighborhoods they target. The houses AB258 seeks to fund are simply the first bulwarks of this occupation.
Senator Taylor joined in, describing the impact snitch houses have on the areas they target, but she relied heavily on some questionable statistics. She repeatedly cited a story about “20% of people causing 80% of the chaos.” If you look up this stat, the first thing you’ll likely find is quotes from pop-economist Malcolm Gladwell, a sure sign that it’s dubious and exaggerated. Digging deeper, we found the actual source, a study from Duke University where researchers were looking to prove the “Pareto Principle,” a quirky theory that the 20/80 rule applies to many aspects of life and social phenomenon.
During the May 18 public hearing on the Snitch House bill (SB124/AB258 also known as COP house bill) Lena Taylor and Van Wanggaard revealed that their co-authored, pro-cop legislation is everything we fear, and worse. We already have a long article detailing snitch houses (bootlickers call them COP houses) but, the more we learn and reflect on supporter’s statements at the hearings, the more we have to say.
There is so much to unpack from Taylor and Wanggaard’s introduction that we are going to put out a three part series, starting this week. The bill gets its first assembly committee vote on Wednesday, June 2. Please call or email the democratic members of the committee before Wednesday!
Two days after the one year anniversary of his murder and on the eve of the anniversary of Minneapolis’ third precinct going up in flames, the government of Wisconsin has little interest in meeting the simple demands of the people. By refusing to institute real accountability measures for police, they are spitting on the grave of George Floyd.
There’s a bill working its way through the state legislature that will give police $600,000 to establish snitch houses in many Wisconsin cities. A snitch house, also called a COP or “community oriented policing” house, is a small police department that looks like a house and provides “wraparound services” like after-school programming to the neighboring community in exchange for improved community and police relations. By “improved relations,” they mean snitching.
Now the assembly version of the bill, AB258, is coming up for a hearing in Madison on Tuesday May 18 alongside the assembly version of SB119, the notorious “fund the police” bill. SB119 is an empty republican provocation with zero bipartisan support. Governor Evers will certainly veto it. The snitch house grant is a bigger threat because, without intervention, it will actually become law.
“Assembly Bill 258 is ramming its way through with the support of Representatives Spiros, Armstrong, Brantjen, and Ortiz-Velez. This bill sucks cuz it gives the cops more of the money than they already have to do stupid shit that also sucks. So if these are your representatives you should call them and tell them this bill sucks, and that they suck and that they owe you money for wasting your own time with this phone call.
That’s the article, see you next time!”
Well that was the article I had written, but we sent it to our editors at the Abolitionist Archives HQ and they sent it back to tell us we should include more information and a better detailed plan of action. So let’s see what we can do with that bit of feedback!
Assembly Bill 258 is the Assembly version of the Senate Bill 124 (Which we talk about here) The one about COP, or Community Oriented Policing, houses. From what we can tell from a few minutes of Googling it seems like this idea exists in its current form based on a program the City of Racine started in the 90’s. The first house was named after Thelma Orr, a lady who made it her business to turn neighborhood kids against each other by recruiting them to join the fuzz. Continue reading “Funds for Fires: the COP House Grant Bill”
At last month’s Parole Commission staff meeting, the Chair, John Tate II made an interesting statement about the number of people the commission had granted releases to in the last year. Last Saturday, April 3, was the National Freedom Movement’s ParoleWatch2021 event, and the commission’s next monthly meeting is Wednesday morning (you can attend at 10 am via zoom here). so this seems like a good time to go in-depth about Tate’s work on the commission.
John Tate II came into his role as a reformer. He is a very diplomatic man and he’s in a delicate situation. Some who know and trust him believe he is doing the best he can in that situation, but anyone who is suffering, or knows and loves someone suffering in prison under the old law, knows that John Tate’s best has not been good enough.
If justice, fairness, reason, or any higher minded values held sway in Wisconsin, everyone serving under the old law, all 2800 of them, would be released by now. Organizers with FFUP, WISDOM, and the ACLU have been fighting to release people sentenced under the old law for years. The 53206 documentary featured the intransigent corruption of the parole commission in regards to one family: Baron and Beverly Walker. The commission and two-faced Milwaukee DA John Chisolm caved to pressure in Baron’s case, but they were very careful to ensure that his release would not create a precedent for the thousands of others in his same circumstances.