After harassing and threatening election workers in Madison and elsewhere, the city council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that would create a new disorderly conduct penalty targeting election officials.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and several council members had sponsored the ordinance, with a full forfeiture on a disorderly conduct citation against election workers at $691, compared to a full forfeiture of $439 for typical disorderly conduct citations. The maximum forfeiture would be $1,000 for disorderly conduct against election officials, as with other types of disorderly conduct.
Announcing the draft ordinance last month, Rhodes-Conway told Madison and elsewhere that “too many election officials have faced serious threats and ongoing harassment simply because some people disagree with the results of the last election. What is important here is that we see that our clerks and our election officials are being harassed for doing their job.
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The board, in a meeting that lasted less than 30 minutes, approved the ordinance without discussion.
Nearly two in three local election officials nationwide believe that false information makes their jobs more dangerous, according to a March poll by the liberal Brennan Center for Justice. The main reason retiring clerks don’t want to continue working is that “too many political leaders are attacking a system they know is fair and honest”, the poll found.
Under the proposed order, each case of disorderly conduct would be charged as a separate violation, and if the conduct is repeated or poses a ‘significant threat’, law enforcement could refer the case to the prosecutor district.
Joseph Waldman, Wisconsin campaign manager of the nonpartisan group All Voting is Local, said the city is sending a “powerful message” to election officials and those who might choose to bully them.
Also on Tuesday, the board also amended the 2022 operating budget to shift funds between and within agency budgets based on projected spending through the second quarter of the year, appropriating a net $1.7 $1 million from general and library funds and make transfers between funds, and amend the 2022 capital budget to transfer funds between projects.
According to mid-year projections, the city expects to receive about $2 million more than projected in revenue, spend about $9 million less than projected, and end the year with a surplus of 9 $.8 million in an operating budget of $360.3 million. The projection, however, does not include required accounting adjustments for the market value of the city’s investments. Due to the rapid rise in interest rates, these adjustments should offset the entire estimated surplus at the end of the year.
In addition, the board unanimously approved a proposal by Kenosha’s Bear Development LLC to convert an existing two-story, 19,690-square-foot 1950s office building at 402 W. Wilson St. Downtown into a four-storey structure with 59 apartments. and underground parking.
Bear would reuse the existing building and add new construction in the parking lot and above the existing structure. All apartments would be for those earning up to 60% of the Dane County median income, or $62,280 for a three-person household. The building would have 29 underground parking spaces and a room for bicycle storage and resident storage. Bear would use federal low-income tax credits and tax-exempt bonds to help fund the project.
In other cases counsel:
- Unanimously accepted a Community Development Division scoping document outlining the steps for implementing a $380,000 federal grant to address gun crime and sexual violence in the greater State Street area and directed the division to issue a request for proposals to nonprofits and others to carry out an Isthmus Safety Initiative.
- Provided $2.1 million in Supplemental Tax Financing (TIF) to Madison Interstate East LLC for a $28.8 million three-phase industrial project at 2930 and 3030 Ohmeda Dr. The investment would be repaid in nine years.
Photos: Voters voted across Madison