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Process Matters, Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway To Learn

August 10, 2019

As soon as the news report was read this week concerning Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway making a policy move prior to the completion of an investigation into a police matter, I knew there was going to be problems.

And rightly so.

Over and over on this blog I have pressed how the process of governing needs to be transparent, and made clear for whose who follow the proceedings, so that win or lose, all can state honestly that the rules were known and applied.  The process must not be  tainted or altered to get to a desired end.

That was not, however, how Mayor Rhodes-Conway acted, as the front page of Saturday’s Wisconsin State Journal made abundantly clear with their reporting.

Madison’s police union president says Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has done the police and police-community relations a “significant disservice” by criticizing the actions of an officer who participated in the forceful, videotaped detention of a black, mentally ill teenager before an independent review of the June 3 incident has been completed. 

In an Aug. 2 email to staffers and City Council leadership — which she later posted in a slightly edited form to her blog — Rhodes-Conway said the “officer’s actions may or may not have violated the law, and may or may not have violated (Madison Police Department) policy; however, police actions in this incident are not and will never be acceptable as best practice in the city of Madison.”

The mayor’s “judgmental statements … are of enormous concern to our members,” Madison Professional Police Officers Association president Kelly Powers said in a statement to the mayor released Thursday.

There is no doubt as to why the mayor acted.  She is hoping to do the work of those who have nursed grudges, and worse, against the men and women who wear blue.   That is a shame.

I hoped that the mayor, once elected, would elevate herself above the fray of those who harbor resentments towards the police.  I had hoped that once a few token, and highly expected names were placed here and there on commissions, that an even stride would be the way forward when it came to interacting with the police department.

But the side swipe by the mayor of not allowing an investigation to be completed before policy moves are taken shows who has the leash in this city, and who is being taken for the walk.  I thought she would have more control of her own office and mission.  It is not the way this city expected to be run only a few months into this new administration.

Process matters.

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