Avatar
All Posts by Empower Wisconsin

Why isn’t the Homeland Security Council meeting?

Empower Wisconsin | May 14, 2020

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — The Wisconsin Homeland Security Council is responsible for advising the governor on emergency preparedness.

The pandemic would certainly fit the definition of an emergency. Yet, the 16-member council has not met since December, and it will not meet for the foreseeable future.

Why?

Andrew Beckett, spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs, tells Empower Wisconsin the council postponed meetings for a few months during the transition of the Wisconsin National Guard’s new adjutant general. The Guard’s commander serves as Homeland Security Adviser and chairs the council.

Gov. Tony Evers in late February named Brigadier Gen. Paul Knapp, an Air Force Reserve officer, as the Wisconsin National Guard’s new chief. He replaced Adjutant Gen. Donald Dunbar, who retired in December following a federal review that found dozens of sexual assault investigations led by the National Guard violated state and federal laws.

Just as Knapp was set to take command, the COVID-19 outbreak struck, Beckett said. So the council meetings have been suspended for the time being.

“It’s because of the response to COVID-19 and the impact that response has had on scheduling,” he said.

But wouldn’t the pandemic necessitate the efforts of a Homeland Security council?  Members include representatives from law enforcement, city planning, the Wisconsin departments of Health Services and Transportation, and the Public Service Commission.

Beckett said many of the council’s stakeholders are involved in COVID-19 response efforts in their daily work.

But it’s clear Evers’ DHS is calling the shots on the pandemic response and preparedness. It was the governor’s Health Services Secretary-designee, Andrea Palm, who superseded even Evers’ authority in extending the governor’s statewide lockdown.

While Beckett said the council merely advises the governor, it was commissioned in 2003 to “work with  local, state, federal, and tribal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private industry to improve citizen and community preparedness.”

“The governor is responsible for appointing council members. Additionally, a member of the governor’s staff is invited to attend and participate at each meeting,” Homeland Security Council website states.

It was created by executive order “to address the state’s ability to prepare and respond to threats to Wisconsin Homeland security.” Those threats — terrorism, drug trafficking, cyber attacks, health emergencies — haven’t disappeared because Wisconsin is also dealing with a pandemic.

Empower Wisconsin was unsuccessful in reaching members of the council for this story. Some did not return calls, others could not be reached for comment.

Beckett said he’s not aware of member concerns about the lack of monthly meetings. He said there is no mandate that the council meet monthly, but the panel’s webpage says the council “meets monthly, on the third Wednesday of each month.”

“Due to scheduling conflicts and real-world events, meetings may be scheduled on different dates or occur more frequently. Generally speaking, however, the Council meets twelve times over the course of a year,” the website states.

Listen to more:

Explore More
Worse than once thought

Worse than once thought

As the Badger State slowly shakes off the dust of a statewide shut down, economic indicators show it will be some time before the economy really rebounds. 

Read More »

June 1, 2020
Tool of the Week: Power-grabbing Joe Parisi

Tool of the Week: Power-grabbing Joe Parisi

Not content with ruining his own local economy, power-grabbing Dane County Executive Joe Parisi last week called on state leaders to ruin what’s left of Wisconsin. 

Read More »

June 1, 2020
Leave it to Evers: Burning down the house

Leave it to Evers: Burning down the house

Gov. Tony Evers’ state lockdowns have put thousands of businesses in economic peril and displaced hundreds of thousands of private sector workers. 

Read More »

June 1, 2020
Assaulting journalists

Assaulting journalists

The criminals that have been rioting, looting, and burning American cities over the past few days have trained their violence and hatred on reporters on the scene, as well.

Read More »

June 1, 2020
Fighting for faith

Fighting for faith

Empower Wisconsin | May 29, 2020  By M.D. Kittle and Joshua Waldoch  MADISON — In the latest assault on civil…

Read More »

May 31, 2020
Double voting twice

Double voting twice

A Green County man voted twice in the same election on two separate occasions, according to a preliminary review of suspected voter fraud. 

Read More »

May 29, 2020
Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *