By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers hit law enforcement once again, vetoing a bill that would have given cops and firefighters a voice on Madison’s and Milwaukee’s police and fire commissions.
In killing Senate Bill 117 last week, Evers said, “I am vetoing this bill in its entirety because I object to minimizing or restricting local control and undermining trust in local governance.”
Critics say it’s another example of the Democrat putting politics before public safety in Wisconsin’s two largest cities — rich in Democrat votes.
The Republican-led bill required commissions in Milwaukee and Madison to each have at least one member recommended by the cities’ firefighters union and police officers union.
And the commissions would have to hold public hearings and meet with union reps before appointing police and fire chiefs.
The bill passed in the Senate with the support of one Democrat, Milwaukee Sen. Lena Taylor. She introduced the measure.
“The reason that this legislation is happening is because, with all due respect, the mismanagement, the failure to do the appointments that need to be done,” Taylor said last year, testifying in support of the bill. “I am concerned that we have a Fire and Police Commission that has shown itself to be in chaos.”
Evers, a liberal who has spent much of his tenure as governor vilifying the law enforcement profession he has broadly painted as systemically racist, claimed the bill would “interfere” with police oversight efforts. Such oversight initiatives in Madison have been criticized as being infused with radical, anti-police representation.
“This veto shows just how dangerous Governor Evers has become,” said state Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), who introduced the legislation in the Assembly. “As crime soars in Milwaukee and Madison, Governor Evers doesn’t believe that even our first responders deserve a voice.
“Why would anyone want to take on such dangerous work without being allowed a fair hearing process?” Brandtjen added. “Evers’ thoughtless veto sends a chilling message to all new recruits. He won’t defend the first responders who risk their lives to keep Milwaukee and Madison safe. As municipalities struggle to find officers, Evers’ veto will hurt neighborhoods that spiral with increasing crime and reduced security.”