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Recall Petitioner's Objection to Police Intervention Heard by Trustees

Shorewood resident was told she couldn't collect recall petition signatures in the portico area of Whitefish Bay Village Hall, despite a memo from the village attorney stating otherwise.

Petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker have , but the practice of gathering those signatures left some unresolved issues within the village.

A Shorewood resident said she had a disagreement with Whitefish Bay village employees and a police officer on Dec. 30 while trying to collect signatures by the entrance to Village Hall. Linea Sundstrom contended that she was on public property. Those employees, and one detective, claimed otherwise.

When the detective told her that she could go to jail if the petition was signed while on village property, she moved to the sidewalk, which she said caused the petitions to be damaged by the rain.

It turns out that Sundstrom was within her rights, and on Monday she asked village trustees to initiate training for village employees to instruct them that Village Hall is public property and that employees should not discriminate against people of differing political opinions. Roughly 20 to 30 residents supported her at the meeting, and some spoke on her behalf.

According to a March 2011 memorandum from Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel for the state's Government Accountability Board, there is no statute governing the use of government buildings for political activity, and it is up to local communities to decide what to allow.

The village initially  in Village Hall. Then in early December, Village Attorney Chris Jaekels drafted a memorandum that changed the village's approach. The memo stated that “village parks, streets, and grounds must be open to all such solicitation that does not threaten health, safety, or public order, or otherwise damage private or public property.”

Sundstrom spoke during the public comment section of the meeting, so trustees could only listen and not respond. She and her supporters left soon thereafter.

Village Manager Patrick DeGrave said after the meeting that Jaekels' memo was originally given to the village clerk, but not to everyone at Village Hall. He said the memo has since been distributed to all village employees, making everyone more cognizant that Village Hall is indeed public property.

DeGrave said Sundstrom had every right to circulate petitions at Village Hall, and he said the detective, who is now retired, acted based on what he thought was the law. He said he will talk to Police Chief Robert Jacobs about reaching out to the woman talking about the incident.

Bob McBride March 07, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Naturally, there's an assumption on her part that she was being discriminated against based on a difference of opinion, rather than being a victim of a mistaken interpretation of the law. How much time was wasted at Monday's meeting on this one-off nonsense? With any luck the law that allows for frivolous recalls like this one will be changed and this will be a moot point going forward.
morninmist March 10, 2012 at 01:39 AM
@Bob The FitzWalkerstan luck is running thin right now. Why do you call it wasted time to set a wrong right? Wouldn't you do the same if you had been wronged??
Bob McBride March 10, 2012 at 03:09 AM
No, actually, I wouldn't. I wouldn't waste valuable time in a village that's got major problems with its sewer system, particularly when flooding season is fast approaching - particularly during a meeting at which those issues are being addressed - just so I could have my say about how offended I was that I had to go stand outside in the rain. It's the height of selfishness. But then again, so is this whole farcical recall.
morninmist March 10, 2012 at 03:36 AM
@Bob You are one sad case for a good citizen. You do not see that the recall petition gathering was democracy in action nor do you comprehend the right for each person to be heard. ............. Bob McBride 9:09 pm on Friday, March 9, 2012 No, actually, I wouldn't. I wouldn't waste valuable time in a village that's got major problems with its sewer system, particularly when flooding season is fast approaching - particularly during a meeting at which those issues are being addressed - just so I could have my say about how offended I was that I had to go stand outside in the rain. It's the height of selfishness. But then again, so is this whole farcical recall.
Bob McBride March 10, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Actually, I have my priorities in order. I live in this village. You don't, nor does the person who felt her little issue with having to stand outside in the rain trumped the concerns of those who live here and pay taxes here. Sewers happen to be a very big issue here and the only opportunities most of us have to interact with the Village government in that regard are at these meetings. There is a time and a place for everything. Grandstanding at a village meeting, taking time away from the legitimate concerns of the citizens of that village so you can "make a statement" is neither the proper time or place to address something as piddly as this. I don't expect you to understand. You've repeatedly demonstrated that you have no concern for anyone's issues other than your own and no sense of perspective.
morninmist March 10, 2012 at 01:17 PM
@Bob Both issues are important. And remember that this incident did take place in your village hall. Both issues can be addressed without you calling the other issue 'piddly' and the person 'selfish" Have a good day,
Bob McBride March 10, 2012 at 01:35 PM
There was no need for this issue to come up at a meeting that occurs once a week, designed to address day to day village operations that effect the residents of the village as a whole. As I said, there's a time and a place for everything. Someone's personal gripe with having to stand out in the rain to collect signatures for a frivolous recall and their subsequent decision to grandstand on it because they're so narrowly focused that they think it actually rises to the level of the other, legitimate concerns of residents is, as I said, addressing it at the wrong place and time. If you ever wonder why you get the reaction you do to your crusade, look no further than this. Again, you don't live here, you haven't put up with what we have over the past few years attempting to get the flooding situation addressed. Your continued insistence that this issue is equally as important as that and that it warranted eating up some of the limited amount of time residents have to address the board on real, everyday issues, just demonstrates, once again, that your perspective is out of whack.
morninmist March 10, 2012 at 02:47 PM
@Bob You really are a poor widdle crybaby. And your judgement is clouded by your ideology. Enough said. I am out of here. Wallow in your self pity.
Bob McBride March 10, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Another one exposed for what they really are. Thanks for playing.
Linea Sundstrom March 12, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Actually, I agree with Bob to some extent. I did not want to hijack the village board meeting. Of course they have other important matters that need their attention. Village officials had 5 weeks to respond to my letter. They did not respond. I asked to be placed on the agenda, so that the issue could be cleared up quickly and cleanly that evening. I was refused a place on the agenda. So, the ironically named "Petitions and Communications" part of the meeting was the only option I had to get this resolved. Bob, as a person of the conservative bent, perhaps you are OK with village employees and elected officials asserting that Village Hall is private property--what they told me, in those exact words. I am not OK with it. When a police officer threatens arrest and jail if he sees someone signing my petition, that does, in fact, indicate an abuse of authority to attempt to silence a view the officer didn't like. I am happy to report that the village manager and the police chief did take my concerns seriously and called me the next day to resolve the matter. All I wanted was that Village employees be informed of the difference between private and public property and that no police officer invent laws or ordinances. That was easy enough to do, and would have prevented the incident. Whitefish Bay can be proud of Chief Jacobs and Village Manager DeGrave who acted professionally and respectfully in their willingness to talk to me about this.
Bob McBride March 12, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Prior to requesting a place on the agenda, did you attempt to contact Pat DeGrave personally to discuss the matter with him? I'm curious as to who you sent your letter to initially.
Linea Sundstrom March 13, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I sent it to Village President Julie Siegel and cc'd it to Police Chief Jacobs. It wasn't exactly a secret, as I'd been at Village Hall requesting a copy of whatever regulation or law I had been accused of violating. I have not heard from Ms. Siegel, but no matter. The misconceptions at Village Hall have been cleared up now. You village government will be the better for it.
Bob McBride March 13, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Reason I asked is that I've run into dead ends on stuff over there as well and, ultimately, it took griping about it here to get pointed in the direction of Pat DeGrave, who managed get all the issues taken care of quickly. I don't really understand why, on the one hand we have a Village Manager who bends over backwards to get stuff addressed, and on the other we've got non-responive personnel in other areas, but so be it. Don't get me started on Julie Siegel. This definitely shouldn't have gotten to the point were it was addressed at Village Board meeting. Seems to me it could have easily been addressed on a department level, as it most likely would have been elsewhere. I've had to get up and walk out of a couple of those meetings myself due to some of the ridiculous stuff that ends up chewing up valuable time. Glad I wasn't there for this one. My head would have exploded.
Linea Sundstrom March 13, 2012 at 03:09 AM
OK. Apology accepted, Bob. Your shoulda, woulda, coulda were in the hands of the Village officials, not me. And I didn't put them in office. I am not unstable, crazy, selfish, etc, for expecting public servants to do their jobs. Mr. DeGrave and Chief Jacobs acted professionally and responsibly, as I said above. So did Ms. Cauffman. It's too bad she's leaving.
Bob McBride March 13, 2012 at 03:16 AM
None offered, really. I still think it was overblown, but the fact that it escalated to the point it did was in part due to the lack of response you got from the folks you first contacted.

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