Capitol access, practices draw more criticism - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Capitol access, practices draw more criticism


MADISON (WKOW) -- Critics of the manner in which officials were running the state capitol claimed the spirit, if not the letter, of a judicial order affirming building access was violated.

"This is not how the building was on January 28,"   said demonstrator Taylor Tengwall, referring to a judge's directive to restore capitol building practices to the procedures used on that date.

"In my opinion, it's contempt of court."

Last week's order affirmed public access to the building, but also acknowledged permissible security steps, in the aftermath of three weeks of mass protest in connection to Governor Walker's proposed budget repair to include the virtual elimination of public employee collective bargaining.

Security steps Tuesday included only allowing two public building entrances;   using electronic wands on all visitors;  and continuing to restrict even the hoisting of a protest banner to the building's ground floor rotunda.

"I assume the state is going to argue the draconian features that are still in place at the state capitol, which they have not changed, are needed because of security reasons,"   said labor unions attorney Peg Lautenschlager, a former state attorney general.

Lautenschalger said she is assessing whether to ask for more court intervention to force compliance with the judge's access order, and to address what she called selectively enforced rules on gathering on the capitol grounds and using amplified sound systems.

Department of Administration spokesperson Tim Donovan has yet to respond to a request from WKOW27 News for DOA's position on complying with the judge's order.   Previously, DOA officials have said all relevant rules and orders involving capitol operation have been followed.

The building's operation Tuesday did provide for more public access.   An escort was no longer needed to visit the offices of republican state senators, who along with Walker have been in the eye of the political storm at the building for supporting Walker's labor proposals.

Signs are posted in the capitol explaining building rules.   At one point, a demonstrator on the building's second floor picked up a sign reading,  "Demonstration area ground floor rotunda,"   and broke it in half.

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