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Aldermen want to exempt elected officials from City Hall weapons ban

Aldermen want to exempt elected officials from City Hall weapons ban

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RACINE — Elected city officials with concealed carry licenses would be exempt from an ordinance banning weapons in city-owned buildings, under an ordinance amendment approved 13-0 Tuesday by the City Council’s Committee of the Whole.

The state’s concealed carry law went into effect in November 2011. Just before it went into place, Mayor John Dickert issued an executive order banning anyone other than law enforcement officers from bringing a gun or any other weapon into City Hall or other city-owned buildings.

On Feb. 20 the Committee of the Whole recommended 8-2 that the executive order be codified by drafting an ordinance.

When the committee met on Tuesday to review the ordinance, Alderman Greg Helding requested an amendment that would allow elected officials to carry concealed weapons in city-owned buildings if they are properly licensed by the state.

Helding explained that elected officials could be easy marks for violence, and that being allowed to carry concealed weapons in city buildings could help them to protect themselves.

To his point, he read several posts from local blogs in which critics of elected city officials made violent references.

“We are the one (group of people affected by the ban) who publicly announce ahead of time when and where we will be in a completely unguarded and publicly accessible place,” he said.

Helding, who has a concealed carry license, said he wasn’t even sure if he would start bringing a weapon to meetings if the measure passed, but said he thought he should have the ability to.

The entire ordinance revision, including updates making other city rules governing the carrying of concealed weapons consistent with state law, is slated to be approved by the City Council at its next meeting on April 3.


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A Wisconsin state lawmaker compared a nonprofit children's museum's mask policy, which required proof of vaccination for those over age 5 to go unmasked inside the museum, to the Nazi Party in a social media post that generated outrage and calls for an apology.

On June 4, Republican state Rep. Shae Sortwell shared a Facebook post by the Central Wisconsin Children's Museum in Stevens Point detailing its mask policy. The museum said masks would be optional for those who show their vaccination cards and masks would be mandatory for everyone else over age 5.

“The Gestapo wants to see your papers, please," Sortwell posted on Facebook, a reference to the feared secret police of Nazi Germany.

In a video posted on Facebook Tuesday, Sortwell said "I absolutely stand by my statement. Do you know why? Because let's look at the actual literal history lesson here of what the Nazis indeed did: They started off by getting people's records. They collected records for people, and if you couldn't provide proper records to prove that you were not a 'filthy Jew' as they put them — keep in mind that another part of Nazi propaganda was that these people were diseased, disease spreaders ... And if you couldn't do it (provide documentation) then all of a sudden you had to put on something that declared to the world, declared to the German people, you were somehow subservient, somehow not as good."

Democratic state Rep. Lisa Subeck, who is a board member of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, noted that just over a month ago the Legislature voted unanimously to require education about the Holocaust in Wisconsin schools.

“At a time when antisemitic incidents continue to rise, hyperbolic rhetoric by Republican elected officials about the Holocaust needs to end now,” Subeck said. “These types of statements pile onto ever increasing antisemitic incidents in our state, and continue to create divisions in an already ultra-divided country.”

In October 2020, the federal courts ruled it was OK for communities to accept grants from private organizations to fund their presidential election operations. Now, eight months later, the City of Racine and the Wisconsin Elections Commission are still dealing with complaints about that very topic.

In a response (that was notarized Monday) to the complaint (that was received by the WEC on April 23), the City of Racine stated that it “dispute(s) the facts as alleged by Complainants in their entirety as inaccurate, misstated, and inflected with bias. An overarching and tainting flaw in the Complaint is that there was something unique or targeted about the City of Racine’s award, acceptance, and use of CTCL COVID-19 elections grant funds, or that of the Cities of Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, and Milwaukee.

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Schools could more adequately fund special education programs, pay teachers better, improve mental health services and undo budget losses from over the past 20 years. Nonprofit leaders say more grant money could help fill gaps in communities, particularly in overlooked areas like hygiene needs or lead pipe replacement. A local nun involved in social justice is hoping for the expansion of low-income housing in Racine by repurposing an iconic empty building, providing a stable stepping stone for local low-income households on the path to home ownership.

Wisconsinites who work with some of the state’s most vulnerable people have a lot of ideas of how they could help others. But it’s questionable at best whether they will directly see any of the surprise $4.4 billion the State of Wisconsin is expecting extra from tax collections.

The Republicans who hold majorities in the Legislature will likely use most or all of that extra $4.4 billion to create property and income tax breaks.

“Now with this new money that's coming in,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Rochester Republican who is the effective leader of the state Legislature, said a Thursday interview, “I think it's just a testament to the good work that we've been doing over the past year, and the fact that we've been good stewards of taxpayer dollars. So, knowing that, I look and say if we had more money than we needed before the $4.4 billion came in, I would be focused on making sure the vast majority of it — hopefully all of it — is returned back to the families, the taxpayers that paid it to us in a way that was more that we need it.”

Vos said he is "open to other suggestions,” for how the money can be used. But, he concluded, “I am presuming that we would do cuts in property taxes, cuts in income taxes ... The only thing I'm not open to is using it to grow the size of government.”

Republicans, including Vos, have argued that the state now has more money than it needs, and so they want to indirectly give that money back to taxpayers through tax cuts.

The sponsor of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline pulled the plug on the contentious project Wednesday after Canadian officials failed to persuade President Joe Biden to reverse his cancellation of its permit on the day he took office.

“President Biden’s decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline killed hundreds of Wisconsin jobs and thousands of jobs overall," U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil said in a statement Thursday; Steil, whose district includes all of Racine County, had been one of the primary critics of Biden's move to cancel the pipeline's permit. "The construction company has unfortunately made clear what we feared — these jobs are not coming back. I am disappointed that Biden did not reverse his decision which laid off workers, is making us more dependent on Russian and Middle Eastern oil, and is driving up gas prices at home. The consequences of Biden rejecting private sector infrastructure investment will be felt for years.”

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