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Capitol Punishments: Snap decisions, no answers

The shitshow around the Quadren Wilson shooting drags on, and Amazon expands its local footprint.

Illustration: Ghosts and ghouls are shown swarming about the Wisconsin Capitol. Illustration by Maggie Denman.

Each week in Wisconsin politics brings an abundance of bad policies, bad takes, and bad actors. In our new recurring feature, Capitol Punishments, we bring you the week’s highlights (or low-lights) from the state Legislature and beyond.

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We all deserve answers

It has been three weeks since two Wisconsin law enforcement agents shot Quadren Wilson, who, the Dane County Sheriff’s office confirmed, was unarmed. What little information has been released in the case so far has just raised more questions

For one, why were a total of 21 federal, state, and local officers involved in arresting someone on a Department of Corrections warrant for a parole violation? At the time he had outstanding domestic violence charges and since his arrest, he’s been charged with felony distribution of narcotics, supposedly connected to an overdose death in a McDonald’s bathroom. Neither the warrant nor the charges suggest Wilson was such a threat that taking him in would require a full-court press police presence, and no one has disclosed why that much force was deemed necessary.

Law enforcement’s reaction after the shooting was first reported was to play a game of “not it,” where each agency released statements that their officers didn’t shoot Wilson, but didn’t say who did. 

Also, medical records indicated that most of his five wounds were in the back, which is never a good look. 

The whole situation has been so convoluted that Dane County Executive Joe Parisi called for more transparency.

“Many questions about this case remain unanswered, such as what happened and why,” Parisi said. “If there was no weapon, what prompted law enforcement officers to shoot so many times?”

It’s mind-boggling that in 2022, law enforcement still balks at having to answer basic questions about their actions, especially in a case that involves an unarmed citizen being shot multiple times by law enforcement agents. And before you come at me with Wilson’s record, plenty of people with records and actual weapons on their person are arrested unscathed in this country. The facts of this case do not add up.

The days of law enforcement being able to shoot first and answer questions whenever they feel like it need to end.

Blink and you missed it

The Village of Cottage Grove on Monday gave final approval for a 3.4 million square-foot, five story Amazon warehouse and distribution center to be built near the intersection of County Highways T and N. 

While the village still needs to finalize a development agreement, the project could break ground by the end of the year. 

If your reaction is “that was quick,” you are not alone. Dozens of Cottage Grove and Sun Prairie residents gave public comment to both the village’s plan commission and the village board, voicing concern with the speed at which the project was undergoing review and approval and asking them to take a beat and slow down. 

The project was introduced to the board in December under the code name “Project Silver Eagle.” Many residents said they didn’t even know it was an Amazon facility until earlier this month. All this comes not even two years after the City of Madison’s similarly swift and dissonant decision to welcome an Amazon distribution center on Milwaukee Street

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The developers of the Cottage Grove project said the plan is to hire 1,000 to 1,500 people. Considering that unemployment right now is 2.8% in Wisconsin, and Amazon doesn’t have the greatest reputation as a workplace, Board member David Peterson asked how the company planned to attract that many people. Amazon representative Jason Vangalis’s opening argument was that the starting pay is $15 an hour, which supposedly makes Amazon a “competitive” employer. 

Vangalis should probably take a drive around the neighborhood, because you can get better than that at McDonald’s and Walmart. And while neither of those companies have great reputations, at least their employees aren’t relieving themselves in bottles and bags.

How low can we go?

The bar for the Republican candidates for governor is already so low and somehow gets even lower. 

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch wouldn’t answer whether she would have certified the 2020 election results. Nor did Kleefisch answer whether former Vice President Mike Pence could have prevented the counting of the electoral votes. 

Either she’s not up to speed on our democratic processes, or she’s trying desperately to cling to the Trump vote even though I have no doubt that constituency is flocking to Rep. Timothy Ramthun’s campaign.

In a surprising twist, Kevin Nicholson, who was vying for the Trumpiest-of-all title when he first entered the race, said that he disagreed with the former president about the electoral vote count. 

He also said that if he had been governor, he would have made sure that the election was carried out in a way that no one could question the results. Considering how many people have tried and failed to prove there was anything untoward in the 2020 election, that’s some interesting framing. 

But sadly, in this race, Nicholson saying he would have had no problem certifying the results under those circumstances counts for something. 

Gotta give credit

I’ve got to give a shout-out to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for putting out a story talking to Wisconsin-based Ukrainians about last night’s invasion so quickly that also thoroughly explored their perspectives on what’s happening. 

But to all the outlets that are centering their reporting on Ukraine around the conflict’s impact on gas prices in the U.S.—don’t. Just don’t. 

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