Adult Swim Time At The State Capitol
"Okay kids, out of the pool. It's time for the grown-ups to take over!"
This message - or something pretty close to it - is what Capitol Police Chief David Erwin and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen are finally saying to the losers who have been occupying the State Capitol for the last year and a half.
Last week, Chief Erwin announced that he planned to begin "strictly enforcing the rules of the Capitol". in other words, protesters will no longer be allowed to scream at, curse at or intimidate other people in the building. Furthermore, groups like the so-called "Solidarity Singers" will no longer be allowed to congregate and disrupt business without first obtaining a permit.
As an aside, the fact that protesters have been allowed to scream at, curse at and intimidate other people in the building up until now is prima facie evidence of what a disgraceful job the previous Capitol Police Chief did.
Predictably, Democrat State Senate Majority Leader (at least until November) Mark Miller expressed concerns with Chief Erwin's plans to enforce the rules. Miller ,as you may remember, is perhaps best known as the guy whose daughter ended up on the State payroll as Jim Doyle's legal counsel despite her not being licensed to practice law in Wisconsin. According to Miller, "citizens have a right to free and open access to the Capitol building".
That's right Mark, "free and open access" - for everybody, not just a group of anti-Walker kooks with nothing to do with their lives except hang out in the Capitol and disturb the peace. Seriously, if the Madison protestors tried any of their stunts at the Federal Building in Milwaukee, they'd quickly find themselves as guests of the U.S. Marshals Service!
In the immediate aftermath of Chief Erwin's announcement, a few dozen additional "singers" showed up to disturb the peace earlier this week. That's fine. It will just make the roundup easier once authorities decide to start enforcing the rules.
The other piece of good news is that the Attorney General's Office is taking over prosecution of some civil disorderly conduct cases involving Capitol protesters. Between the former Capitol Police Chief and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, chronic protestors have pretty much been allowed to engage in any sort of bad behavior they choose with no consequences.
Amazingly, despite a year and a half of misconduct, only approximately 139 disorderly citations have been issued. For his part, Ozanne - who seems to see no evil as long as the misconduct is directed at Republicans - has dismissed 94 of the tickets. Hopefully, the AG's Office will be a little more interested in seeing that the law is followed.
Admittedly, any prosecution of protesters has to go through the Dane County Court system. As a result, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the habitual miscreants to suffer any real consequences for their misbehavior.
Still, it seems like the grown-ups are finally starting to take control of our State Capitol back from the lunatic fringe. It's adult swim at the Capitol - and not a moment too soon.