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Tool of the Week: Lodi school intimidators

Looks like authoritarian rule is stuck in Lodi again.

As Wisconsin Spotlight first reported, Lodi School officials sicced police on parents at a recent school board meeting. It turns out a board member in particular wasn’t comfortable with the public’s objections to overreaching district policies during the meeting’s comment period.

Empower Wisconsin obtained a recording of the 911 call made during the Nov. 8 Lodi School Board meeting. The call to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department was placed by Maureen Palmer, administrative assistance to District Administrator Vince Breunig.

“He does not have to come lights and sirens, we just want to have him present at our board meeting the way it’s going,” Palmer says.

Was the meeting becoming disorderly, the dispatcher asks. No, but it might, Palmer said.

“We would just like his presence here, just come and be present for a while,” Palmer added. It would “make a board member feel better.”

If felt more like intimidation to the parents that simply wanted their elected school board members to listen to them. They were so tired of not being heard that they hired attorney Brent Eisberner to speak for them. They “donated” each of their five minute blocks of time for Eisberner to tell the board what was on their minds, why the district’s policies on masks and quarantines and its proposal to limit the public from speaking at board meetings are a bridge too far.

Apparently Lodi School Board President Adam Steinberg thought Eisberner not wearing a mask while he spoke, while he ate a lollipop, was threatening.

That’s about the time Palmer called 911.

“I think it’s an incredible waste of resources,” the attorney said.

We agree. Think about the actual emergencies — even the routine business of public safety presence on Lodi’s streets — that the officer was diverted from because a board member felt uncomfortable about the expressed opinions of local taxpayers and a lawyer speaking for them.

This is the local version of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on federal law enforcement to go after parents that public school officials decide are threatening. Americans don’t care for weaponizing federal agencies to attack political enemies. A recent poll from Convention of States Action found 74 percent of American voters who have an opinion on the issue do not support Garland directing the FBI to investigate parents expressing their concerns at public school board meetings.

Such police “presence” might make sensitive board members “feel better,” but it’s not a good or proper use of taxpayer resources. It’s an intimidation game by tools.

And the supporters of such tactics are collectively Empower Wisconsin’s Tool of the Week.

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