By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers is just too busy to talk to the families of Milwaukee’s homicide victims.
As violence continues to spike in one of America’s most dangerous cities, WKOW’s A.J. Bayatpour asked the governor when he last had an “in-person conversation with” the family of a murder victim.
“I may have before that, but I’ve got a busy schedule,” the Democrat said.
State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) said it’s tragic Evers has been so “unsympathetic to a city that has become overcome with crime.”
“I would suggest he talk with the Milwaukee Police Association and some of the neighborhoods that have been ravaged by crime, by carjackings, by shootings, by assaults,” she said. “It’s hard to believe that this is the Milwaukee that I grew up in.”
Brandtjen was one of several Milwaukee-area lawmakers who called on Evers to fire Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm after the DA’s office recommended $1,000 bail for Darrell Brooks Jr. before the violent career criminal was charged with killing six people and injuring dozens more in the Waukesha parade. Evers refused to even investigate Chisholm, a fellow partisan Democrat who is a driving force behind Milwaukee County’s progressive, revolving door criminal justice system.
Milwaukee recorded a record number of homicides in 2020 and 2021. As of Monday, 36 people had been murdered in Milwaukee, 20 more than the same time last year.
It doesn’t appear Evers has reached out to any of the people dealing with more senseless loss of life.
As Bayatpour moved to the next topic in the interview, Evers, looking uncomfortable, interrupted and said he knows he “communicated with folks” (family members of murder victims) in his work on “pardons and so on.”
Evers, who has spent much of his term pushing liberal criminal justice reform, has said he is now “open” to Republican-led crime bills that would stiffen Wisconsin’s bail laws. But he won’t say whether he will sign legislation passed this session, bills liberal lawmakers did not vote for.
“I’m not in a position to say as a Wisconsinite that I would support that or not support that,” he told Capital City Sunday, seemingly forgetting that he’s not simply a Wisconsinite but the governor of the state. “At the end of the day, my concern is that we react in a way that’s proactive, but we also have to make sure that all people invested in this particular decision have some input on it.”
In other words, he’s got to check with his radical left base to see if it’s okay.
And Evers refused to answer whether he supports his lieutenant governor’s proposal for eliminating cash bail. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, presumed Democratic frontrunner in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race, last week doubled down on his earlier position, advocating for ending cash bail nationally.
Evers tried to slink out of the question by saying there’s no bill on the subject heading to his desk so he doesn’t have to make that decision.
“So right now you don’t have an opinion on whether cash bail should exist?” Bayatpour asked the governor.
Evers said he understands that “people have that point of view,” but he’s not heard “everybody’s input.”
Progressive criminal justice reforms like the one Barnes is pushing are increasingly unpopular with Americans growing tired of unchecked crime in their communities, according to polls.
“if I could say anything to the governor, I would say please can we allow the police to be in control of the gangs in Milwaukee,” Brandtjen said.