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Capitol Punishments: Welcome, people who hate us!

Milwaukee’s perverse bid to host a Republican convention, plus more notes on upcoming local elections.

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 recurring feature, Capitol Punishments, we bring you the week’s highlights (or low-lights) from the state Legislature and beyond.

Go somewhere else

Milwaukee Election Commission executive director Claire Woodall-Vogg, got in some hot water for her tweet on the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) 2024 convention potentially coming to Milwaukee. 

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“Should MKE host the RNC, you will find me working remotely out of state that week, lest I be hung in the town square like some have threatened,” Woodall-Vogg tweeted.

She ended up deleting her Twitter account and gave a half-hearted “I would love for the RNC to come here.” But the problem wasn’t that what she said was inappropriate; it’s that she’s right

Yes it was disappointing that the Democratic National Convention of 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic, but the two conventions are not the same. 

This is the same Republican Party that has spent months and countless funds trying to overturn the will of Milwaukee (and Madison!) voters. Even today, some lawmakers are still pushing to rescind Wisconsin’s electors, even though legal experts and state house Republican leadership have stated, multiple times, that that’s not a thing. And all because some guy can’t deal with the fact that he lost, and his party saw an opportunity to keep a stranglehold on power.

If you look forward to Capitol Punishments every week like we do, consider becoming a Tone Madison sustainer. Reader support is what makes it possible for us to be as, er – punishing about politics as we are.

Speaking of that guy: unless there are some major changes over the next two years, the RNC’s presidential nominee is either going to be that guy or someone very that-guy-like. With them comes a whole host of grifters, charlatans, and white nationalists. Think a combination of everyone connected to Michael Gableman’s 2020 “investigation” and the Jan. 6 organizers. Inviting them en masse to Wisconsin’s most diverse city seems just plain dangerous.

The one positive of the RNC coming to Milwaukee is that it would give local businesses a boost. But very little of that estimated $200 million the convention would bring is going to go to the city. It will go to the state Capitol, where Republican leadership will find reasons not to invest it in Milwaukee and weaponize the issues caused by that divestment as a whipping boy to justify not investing in Milwaukee, Madison or any statewide progressive initiatives.

Overlooked elections

Next week’s spring election is mostly about the down-ballot candidates that are often overlooked, but those are the people entrusted to make decisions that directly affect your community and your tax dollars.

School boards have received an outsized amount of attention during the pandemic, initially for pandemic-related issues such as remote schooling and masking. But that has morphed into a culture war debate over critical race theory (CRT) that is not actually about CRT

It’s also important to vote because there is an ongoing fight to make it harder to vote. Thanks to a Waukesha County judge and the Wisconsin Supreme Court, drop boxes will not be allowed this election, even though they have been used in Wisconsin for years. Also bear in mind that due to redistricting, district boundaries and polling locations may have moved. 

Tone Madison managing editor Oona Mackesey-Green wrote up a two-part series on how to prepare for the April 5 election and pay closer attention to local politics. Speaking of which…

Nobody taught you to play nice?

You know things are getting a little out of hand in local government when they have to spell out how to be respectful to colleagues and constituents. 

That’s apparently what’s happened at the Madison Common Council, where two Alders have resigned from a special work group, alleging that the chair, Alder Keith Furman, “has not been leading with equity or practicing inclusive meetings” and “is using his power and privilege to make sure our voices are not valued or considered.”

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A promotional graphic for the Mad Lit events series shows the series' logo and text stating (8 p.m. until 11 p.m., Every other Friday, 100 block of state St. July 1st-October 7th. A collage of performers and audience members is visible to the right, and the logos of event sponsors are visible along the bottom.

This isn’t a singular incident. In 2020, now-former Alder Paul Skidmore muttered the C word after local activist Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores was introduced to speak. Even though it can be heard on the meeting recording, an investigation was inconclusive.

In response, the council has introduced a code of conduct that outlines how members are to interact with each other and the public and what the consequences will be for any infractions. Because apparently some grown, adult members of the council never learned how to play nice with others.

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