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Sunday, November 28, 2021

City Council to revisit loitering

Following Madison Mayor Sue Bauman's decision to veto the City Council's repeal of the sunset clause in the city ordinance that allows police to pick up individuals who are loitering, the controversial proposal is once again on the chopping block. 

 

 

 

\Over the years that the ordinance has been in place, I have become increasingly uncertain the ordinance was having the desired effect,"" Bauman said in her veto statement.  

 

 

 

According to police testimony given at the previous council meeting, the ordinance has been used to apprehend a disproportionately high number of blacks, something many alders voiced displeasure on when a majority decided to eliminate the sunset clause. 

 

 

 

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Ald. Steve Holtzman, District 19, said he was upset Bauman vetoed the bill, charging her with bowing to public pressure. 

 

 

 

""I'm very disappointed that the Mayor is joining those claiming we have a racist police department,"" he said. ""She says this ordinance is enforced unfairly against African Americans and that contradicts what the police are saying that they are enforcing it based on behavior."" 

 

 

 

The measure now must be reaaproved by the alders during their March 5 meeting for the law to remain in the books. 

 

 

 

""I think the best step would be to remove the ordinance,"" Ald. Todd Jarrell, District 8, said. 

 

 

 

The council should look at the deeper social currets underlying the measure's problems, Holtzman said. 

 

 

 

""We live in a racist society and we need to examine opportunities in employment and education, if you want to get to the heart of the matter,"" he said. ""This is a terrible ordinance, but it is the best thing we have right now to protect people who live in a racially and economically segregated society."" 

 

 

 

According to Bauman, she did not veto the entire measure because doing so would put the police force at a distinct disadvantage. 

 

 

 

""I recognize that there are many who would like to see the ordinance sunset now,"" she said. ""This approach does not allow the police department to plan and prepare for the loss of the ordinance."" 

 

 

 

Holtzman, who voted to end the sunset provision during the previous council meeting, said he may not support extending the loitering law for another year. 

 

 

 

""If the sunset is there, then we're out of business on March 5,"" he said. ""The debates on the [law] have developed into racist epithets being leveled at our police department. They don't deserve to be put through this year after year."" 

 

 

 

A council vote is likely, since the Mayor's veto will probably be left standing. The Council needs a three-fourths majority to overturn it, according to Jarrell. The measure originally passed11-7. 

 

 

 

""Its going to be hard for people to override her veto on this one,"" he said.

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