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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 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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