Archive for Uncategorized

Fake Republicans Run For State Assembly In Tosa- Brookfield District

Three Republicans are running in next month’s primary election for the state assembly in the Wauwatosa-Brookfield area and are vying for the right to run against incumbent Democrat Robyn Vining, one of the most liberal members of the entire assembly. But two of the three candidates don’t seem very Republican at all and one of them is a Walker recall signer.

I reported two years ago when Linda Boucher first ran for the seat that she signed the Walker recall petition. A member of the Elmbrook School Board, Boucher did not win the 2018 primary for assembly. But she’s back again run on another non-conservative platform. In addition to being a recall signer, Boucher has also called for freeing repeat drunk drivers from prison, telling a WisconsinEye interviewer that alcoholism is a disease that requires treatment. It’s not surprisng Boucher is opposed to imprisoning repeat drunk drivers. Her husband, Peter Pagonis, has six OWI convictions, the most recent from 2017.

A second candidate in the race, Steven Shevey, says right on his website he’s not really a Republican and ran in the past as an Independent but knows the only way to get elected is to be a member of one of the two parties.

The third GOP candidate, Bonnie Lee, is a solid conservative and backed by many local conservative leaders. The winner takes on Vining in the November general election.

Mark Belling
July 6

EXCLUSIVE: Milwaukee Restaurant Operator Championing Mask Requirement Has Extensive List Of Health Code Violations

EXCLUSIVE:  Milwaukee Restaurant Operator Championing Mask Requirement Has Extensive List Of Health Code Violations

By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

A number of prominent Milwaukee restaurant operators are asking the city to require the wearing of masks at all public places, even though there is nothing that is preventing these operators from doing it on their own now.

One of the leaders of the movement, however, may have bigger public health issues than COVID.  The Tandem, a much-praised restaurant at 18th and Fond du Lac, owned by Caitlin Cullen, was cited for eleven separate violations of city health rules at its inspection in February.

You can see the report HERE.

The long list of violations included storing a bag of onions a floor in the basement and a filthy ice machine, also in the basement.  Cullen has been one of the most vocal advocates of requiring masks at all bars and restaurants in the city.   Many of the other operators on the list have health violations of their own, including Ward’s House of Prime, Colectivo Coffee and Comet Café.

The Comet, co-owned by outspoken liberal Leslie Montemurro, is also calling for a mask rule and has occasionally posted signs banning police officers from eating at the restaurant.   Yet Montemurro’s place also has a juicy health code write-up including a notice for having toxic chemicals in a food prep area.

These are the restaurant operators that think you have to be required to wear a mask to be safe.  They might spend more time cleaning their own establishments before trying to pass rules that affect their competitors.

Mark Belling

July 6

EXCLUSIVE: St. Francis Parents Whose 14-Day Old Baby Was Savagely Abused Both Get Probation

July 1, 2020
Mark Belling

Here is the update on the story I reported earlier this year on the couple who cut plea bargains for misdemeanor neglect after neither admitted to being the one who actually brutalized their baby.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Fredrick Rosa sentenced both to three years probation. They will have to do nine months at the House of Correction with daytime release. They will be able to regain custody of the abused child after the three year probation period is up and will have visitation rights immediately.

The full story, with all of the background is below:


Mark Belling
January 13

EXCLUSIVE: St. Francis Parents Whose 14-Day Old Baby Was Savagely Abused Cut Plea Deal For Probation, Misdemeanor Convictions

By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

Because authorities say they cannot prove which parent did the abuse, a St. Francis couple, whose 14-day old baby who was terribly abused in January of last year, will plead guilty to misdemeanor charges and avoid prison.

Jessica D. Groen, 38, and Tyler J. Lamb, 33, both of St. Francis, were charged in January of last year of multiple counts of child neglect after their baby was taken to a hospital emergency room with multiple serious injuries. The 16-page doctor’s report indicated the baby had multiple fractures, facial bruising and abrasions, oral trauma, abrasions to both palms, blood blisters and blood in the eye.

But prosecutors say neither Lamb nor Groen would admit to the abuse but both acknowledged they saw evidence of the child’s injuries before taking the baby to the hospital. Deputy Milwaukee County District Attorney Matthew Torbenson tells me he did not believe he could prove which parent did the violent acts and therefore can’t charge either of them. Torbenson said both parents adamantly deny abusing the child. However, Torbenson acknowledged their response were occasionally implausible including their insistence that the baby’s face was bruised at birth. Torbenson acknowledged that would be impossible.

The plea deal reached with Groen and Lamb has them pleading guilty to four misdemeanor counts of child neglect but neither will face any charges for the injuries themselves or knowledge the baby was being abused.

I asked Torbenson why he didn’t simply charge both parents with abuse and the prosecutor said that would be improver because he didn’t believe he could prove either charge because neither of the parents implicated the other.

The plea deal will include a recommendation to Judge Frederick Rosa that both Lamb and Groen receive probation and extended supervision, but no prison time. Torbenson said the parents will be able to seek custody of the abused child after the period of supervision ends.

Here is a link to a Fox6 report on the original charges from January of last year:

Headed to Trial, St. Francis Couple Accused of Neglect Abuse of Newborn Boy

Milwaukee Police Inspector Says Officer Morale Is Low Because They Think Nobody Will Support Them; Demonstrations Have Diverted Detectives From Investigating Violent Crime

June 23, 2020


For today’s Critical Issues report, PERF spoke with police officials from several cities about recent spikes in their crime rates.

Key Takeaways

  • Violent crime is increasing sharply in some cities.  In New York City, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee, crimes are at high points going back years.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has been a key factor in rising crime, for several reasonsJurisdictions released many offenders in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in jails. And courts in many places have been closed. That has led to a feeling among offenders that they can commit crimes with impunity.  In addition, police in some cities are less proactive in their enforcement, in order to avoid interactions with the public that could spread the virus.
  • George Floyd-related demonstrations have been another factorPolice officers who would normally spend their time investigating violent crime have been assigned to demonstrations. 
  • The mood in some departments is grim.  Officers are discouraged when they are blamed for incidents that occurred in other cities, and they feel abandoned by elected officials. Many officers in Milwaukee are retiring early.


NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan:

We’re Seeing Increases in Crime Like We Haven’t Seen in a Long Time

For the first three weeks of June, we haven’t seen shooting numbers like this for a long time. In the last week, we’ve had 53 shooting incidents and 72 people shot. We have to go back to the week of July 4th in 2012 for a week like that.

For us, these increases started last year with bail reform, which emptied out Rikers. It increased with the start of COVID, when they released more people out of Rikers, taking its population down to the lowest level since the 1950s. Then came the George Floyd incident, the demonstrations, and the anti-police rhetoric that’s going on everywhere and has basically destroyed morale. It’s set off a feeling on the streets right now that it’s okay to carry a gun, settle old disputes, and start shooting at one another. We’re seeing people get sprayed at parties. Fireworks are also out of control throughout the city, and they’re masking the sounds of gunfire.

Our cops are unsure what to do. They think there’s no reason to do any quality-of-life enforcement.

We’re finally going to have a live Compstat meeting this week, for the first time since the start of COVID. We’re going to discuss these issues and see how we can adjust the way we police, because the amount of violence we’re seeing is unacceptable.

Working with prosecutors, we looked at 1,200 people on out of the streets right now who are indicted on a gun charge, and another 800 who have been arrested for gun charges but have not been indicted yet because courts are closed.

So there has been this perfect storm that’s swirled around us.

Chuck Wexler: Can you make a direct connection between the people getting out of Rikers and the increase in crime?

Chief Monahan: When it comes to total crime, yes. 20% have been rearrested after being let out of Rikers. We can’t make the same connection on violent crime.  But we’re seeing a large uptick of parolees involved on either end of the gun, as either the shooter or the victim.

There’s a feeling that you’re not going to go to jail. There’s a feeling on the streets right now that if you fight a cop and get it on video, you’re going to have a payday. So there’s a lot circulating through the agency right now.

Wexler:  How do you motivate people in this environment?

Chief Monahan:  You’ve got to be out there speaking to them. Get your message out. Remind them why they came on this job. You have to be willing to talk about the issues that they’re facing, and defend them publicly so that they know that someone has their back.  

Hopefully we can challenge some of our elected officials to stand up and say, “Hey, we need the police.” We’re starting to get some support, but we need this national opinion of negativity toward police to come to an end.

Wexler:  Why do you think people might be more willing to carry a gun now?

Chief Monahan: There’s an opinion out there that the cops aren’t going to stop them. There’s a feeling on the street that it’s safe to carry a gun, and even if you get caught with a gun, you’re not going to go to prison. That’s a narrative we have to work very hard to change.


Indianapolis Metropolitan Assistant Chief Chris Bailey:

The Justice System Isn’t Providing Accountability

We’re in the midst of an almost six-year increase in homicides. Last year we had a little bit of a reprieve – the number went down slightly – but it has ticked back up significantly this year. It really started in November and December of last year, and in continued in January and February. At the height of our COVID response, the crime numbers kind of levelled out, but in May, it blew up. As far as I can tell, there’s only one other time that we’ve had 25 homicides in one month, in November 2017. Going back to the inception of our combined police department in 2007, we haven’t seen any numbers like that. This month we’re right back where we were last year.

For a period of time, our nonfatal shooting victims and incidents were down, but they have now surpassed where we were last year at this time. We’ve had 217 incidents so far this year, compared to 200 last year, and in 2016 we were in the 180s. So gun crime has been continuously rising in our city.

Indiana is a place where people love their guns, and our gun recoveries have gone up over the last several years. We had 3,500 last year. Since the government has reopened in our city, one of our busiest places is our citizen services office where we process state gun permits. Since we reopened last week, we’ve probably processed over 1,500 people waiting to get a gun permit.

So there’s a feeling that it’s okay to carry a gun and it’s okay to fire it and our police officers aren’t going to be able to do anything about it. Some of that has to do with our response to COVID. But it’s the atmosphere that we find ourselves in right now.

Wexler:  What’s driving this increase?

Asst. Chief Bailey: A lot of it is related to drug trafficking. We’ve had several simple disputes that have ended in gunfire. We’ve had several incidents where people have been shot at large mass gatherings. We had a party over the weekend at an Airbnb that ended up with several people shot. We had an 8-year-old killed by random gunfire. We had a 16-year-old killed while in the car with her mom.

During COVID, we really slowed down our investigations through our Crime Gun Intelligence Center and our probation interventions, and I think we’re paying for a lot of that right now.

Wexler:   What is your strategy going forward?

Asst. Chief Bailey:  We initiated a multi-agency task force last year through our Crime Gun Intelligence Center that brings together ATF, our prosecutor’s office, and other regional partners. They’ve been doing a lot of good work. We have a focused approach on the people that we know have a propensity for violence. We get together every two weeks and talk about our nonfatal shooting victims.

But even when we try to do this focused approach on the people we know are trigger-pullers, we’re still outnumbered by them. I don’t think there’s a sense of accountability in our criminal justice system right now. We have a bond system in place where the judge doesn’t look at criminal history when deciding bail, so I don’t think there’s any accountability.

Our criminal justice system has been failing for many years. We’re dealing with kids who have had no accountability at home, no accountability at school, no accountability in the juvenile justice system, and now they’re young adults and aren’t facing any accountability for their actions.

We understand all those systematic things that lead people to violence, and we’re not afraid to try to address those things. But we also have to address them in the here-and-now, and we’re not getting a lot of help from the other partners in our system. And there’s not a lot of stomach for some of the traditional law enforcement tools that have been used in the past to address these issues in our communities.


Milwaukee Inspector Leslie Thiele:

Officers Are Retiring Because They’re Demoralized

Our homicides are way up. We haven’t seen these numbers since 1991. We have 86 homicides this year, compared to 37 to this point last year, so we have a 132% increase. We’ve had an increase since the fall, but it has increased immensely over the last couple of months. We had a couple mass shootings, but a lot of shootings tend to be related to drugs or silly disputes. We’ve had a big increase in domestic violence shootings.

We’re basically not getting any support from our Common Council or our Fire and Police Commissioners. They have talked about potentially cutting more of our budget. The attrition rate is very high the last couple years, and it’s going to continue this year. We have had a lot of people come forward and basically say they’ve had enough and retire. We’ve had younger officers who have been on for a year to 10 years, and have resigned because they’re not willing to put their families through any news stories that would come out if they were involved in anything. It has been difficult, and morale is low.

But we’re doing the best we can. Our officers are still out there taking their assignments, and some are still trying to be proactive. But, overall, I think the feeling is that they’ll do what they have to do but proactive policing is minimal right now.


Milwaukee Inspector Terrence Gordon:

Crime Is High Because Officers Don’t Have Time to Fight It

Toward the end of last year, we saw an increase in people getting killed over marijuana. This year, pre-COVID and toward the beginning of COVID, we saw a big spike in intimate partner and family violence. In the past month or so, it’s been driven by disputes. So it’s a combination of factors.

I think the fact that police departments in major cities are distracted right now is a contributing factor everywhere. It is definitely an issue here. Our department is distracted with politics, inquiries, demonstrations, everything you can imagine except serving the neighborhoods we come to work to serve.

Morale is terrible. But people don’t have low morale because of something the chief did; it’s because they’re afraid that nobody in this community is going to stand up for them. In 25 years, I’ve never seen it like this. I never thought that I’d see the day where a Milwaukee police officer would withdraw from the community they swore to serve. But I can see it beginning to happen right now, and it’s just terrible, because on the other side of all these crimes are victims.

I grew up during the crack wars in Milwaukee, but there is a wildness out there that I have not experienced in my city before. There are bullets flying everywhere right now.

Wexler: How are you planning to navigate through this?

Inspector Gordon: We honestly think that if we had time to do our jobs, we could get a handle on it. We haven’t stopped doing our shoot reviews every week, but our detectives were on the demonstration lines with riot helmets and batons for two weeks. Our police officers who would normally be on patrol were also on the line. I really think that if the city got back to doing what we’re elected and appointed to do, we could get a handle on this. I don’t think we need a new strategy. I just think we need time to do our jobs.


Las Vegas Metropolitan Captain James LaRochelle:

We’re Trying to Maintain Our Great Records for 2018-19, But It’s Difficult

We had a couple very, very good years here in 2018 and 2019. We also started off this year well, with a 30% reduction in homicides at one point, partly because we pushed our headquarters detectives out to the area commands 4 or 5 years ago to put them closer to the community. Sheriff Lombardo implemented a major case protocol for some of our murders and other high-end crimes that involved Strip properties. That went into effect last year about this time, and we’ve implemented it 20 times over the past year. We’re 20 for 20 in solving crimes where we had no suspect information to start. That also improved the next layer of detectives, who were assigned to some of our shootings.

We had two years in a row of solving about 90% of our homicides, and Sheriff Lombardo wanted to push that focus to shootings this year. We were driving down those numbers and improving the rate at which we solved them.

So we were having a good year, and then COVID hit. During COVID our numbers fluctuated in different ways. Our domestic violence calls went up. Knife attacks and firearms were bouncing up and down.

Then, about three weeks ago, we had a really bad week, with 11 murders in 10 days. Some of those were domestic violence-related. Our gang murders are about 22% of our homicides, and our rate of solving those is a bit lower. At one point in April we had solved 100% of our murders, and now we’re at about 80%.

Our numbers are really changing week to week, because different variables keep getting added into the equation – COVID, protests, potentially some morale issues. We moved cops to the protests from patrol and kept detectives focused on detective work. Our Violent Crime Initiative teams, which we usually put in our most challenged neighborhoods, have been pulled to the protest line.

We are seeing an uptick in violence here just recently. In the last month we were up 34% in robbery. Robbery needs a viable victim, viable location, and viable suspect, and, as Las Vegas has opened up, that becomes available.

We’ve seen a significant decrease in officer-initiated activity over the past month. Our person stops are down 28% and our car stops are down 32%. That speaks to how many patrol officers are attending to protests.

We’re still slightly down in violent crime year-to-date, but lately we are seeing an uptick and it is a concern. 


The PERF Critical Issues Report is part of the Critical Issues in Policing project, supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.


PERF also is grateful to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for supporting this work.

Police Executive Research Forum
1120 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 930
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 466-7820

Shorewood Protest Spitter Is Walker Recall Signer, Donor To Village President

By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

Stephanie Rapkin, the Shorewood attorney arrested twice over the weekend after confrontations with protesters, is an activist liberal in the community who signed the Scott Walker recall petition and donated to liberal Supreme Court candidate JoAnn Kloppenburg and Shorewood Village President Allison Rozek.

Rapkin, when applying for a vacant seat on the Shorewood Village Board two years ago, bragged that she co-hosted a fundraiser for Kloppenburg, the twice unsuccessful candidate for the Supreme Court and a Madison liberal. Rapkin, at the same meeting, bragged to Village President Rozek “I got you elected,” pointing out the fundraiser was jointly held for Kloppenburg and Rozek.

Rapkin is also a signer of the 2012 recall petition aimed at ousting former Governor Scott Walker. It can be seen here:


Kenosha County Ends Shutdown Immediately After Being Told Supreme Court Ruling Applies To Local Governments

Kenosha County Ends Shutdown Immediately After Being Told Supreme Court Ruling Applies To Local Governments
By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

Kenosha County officials dramatically withdrew their Stay At Home order for the county in the middle of last night’s county board meeting, saying county officials were told by the Wisconsin Counties Association that the Wednesday State Supreme Court ruling applies to local communities as well as the state.

Here is a link to a statement posted last night on Kenosha County’s website:

The Counties Association, on its website, addresses the situation with local communities without directly saying the high court ruling requires and immediate suspension of local lockdown orders. After the court Wednesday ruled that the Evers Administration’s shutdown order was illegal and invalid, some local communities began imposing their own.

The Supreme Court ruling stated that Wisconsin Statute 252, which the Evers team used, cannot be used to impose orders that have not been approved by a legislative body. None of the local lockdown orders were approved by legislative bodies either and therefore seem similarly illegal.

In Milwaukee County, 18 local health administrators issued their order after a late night tele-conference that appears to be a violation of the state open meetings law. No member of the public was told of the conference in advance and no one was allowed to listen in.

Other orders from around the state appear to have been issued in the same tyrannical method. Kenosha County is the first to withdraw its order. Franklin Mayor Steve Olson tells me his community will not enforce the Milwaukee County order.

It is possible somebody may seek a court injunction blocking the communities that have not taken the orders down from enforcing them.

Mark Belling
May 15

EXCLUSIVE: State Hospital COVID Case Load Continues To Plummet

By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

While virtually all hospital companies and clinics in Wisconsin continue their halt most treatments and procedures for non-COVID patients, data out today shows that the actual number of hospitalized COVID patients in the state continues to plummet.

Figures from the State Department of Health Services released today show 373 patients with COVID in all of the hospitals in the state combined. That’s down 33 from 406 yesterday. Wisconsin hospitals have just under 13,000 total beds. Many procedures, treatments and appointments for people who have conditions other than COVID have been called off because of fears the virus would overwhelm the healthcare system. Instead, it’s barely made a dent.

The Medical College of Wisconsin is the latest to tell employees of coming layoffs and furloughs. MCW has most non-COVID appointments on hold, causing a loss of revenue and no need for many workers. In the meantime, the actual in-patient COVID caseloads continue to drop.

Advocate Aurora, the state’s largest hospital company, has seen a similar drop in its COVID patient load. All of the Aurora hospitals in the state have a combined COVID in-patient count of 96. That’s down 25 percent since I first reported on Aurora’s numbers last week. Aurora has hospitals all over the state of Wisconsin and many have zero COVID patients. Yet Aurora has canceled procedures everywhere. In fact, Aurora’s stats indicate the entire health care system and its physicians are treating only 668 current cases either in or out of the hospital.

The numbers not only indicate the Wisconsin hospital census for COVID patients is declining but that such patients now are using only a very small minority of the rooms in hospitals. There seems to be no justification for halting all other procedures.

Sources indicate that among the procedures being put on hold in some physician practices are child vaccinations. This could lead to outbreaks of communicable diseases among kids. A myriad of other procedures including joint replacements, colonoscopies, mental health treatment, heart tests and other procedures have been put on hold. Virtually no physical exams or lab tests are being done. Mammograms and prostate screenings are on hold. All of these decisions were made in anticipation of a COVID spike that did not materialize.

Now that it is clear there will be no spike, it seems insane that non-COVID procedures remain off limits

Mark Belling
April 21

EXCLUSIVE: Aurora Begins Plans To Resume Postponed Non-COVID Procedures

EXCLUSIVE: Aurora Begins Plans To Resume Postponed Non-COVID Procedures
By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

Only days after I reported that COVID-19 patients are making up only a tiny percentage of the current population at Advocate Aurora hospitals in Wisconsin, the company is beginning plans to resume procedures for non-COVID patients.

I have learned a number of Aurora physicians were told late last week the company is preparing to resume non-COVID procedures, although no date has been given. A myriad of critical procedures have been postponed including knee and hip replacements, physical exams, cancer screening, many outpatient cancer treatments, colonoscopies, pain management and a number of other serious procedures. Many of these were postponed in fear of hospitals being overrun with COVID patients. In fact, according to today’s figures, there are only 373 COVID patients in all hospitals in Wisconsin combined.

Most mainstream media outlets have chosen not to report on the shrinking COVID patient load, even as many people complain about they’re being denied access to health care. The question isn’t even being raised by reporters to Governor Evers’ Health Secretary Andrea Palm. Many doctors at Aurora and other large chains are furious about the orders to stop seeing patients and suspend procedures. Many hospital chains have laid off staff even as the anticipated surge of COVID patients failed to materialize.

Mark Belling
April 20

EXCLUSIVE: MPS Teacher Tweets Rush Limbaugh Should Have to Suffer From Cancer, Says “It’s Awesome That He’s Dying…”

By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

A Milwaukee Public Schools teacher has tweeted on his personal account that “Rush Limbaugh absolutely should have to suffer from cancer.” He goes on to say “it’s awesome that he’s dying” and hopes the death will be “painful.”

The teacher, Travis Sarandos, is listed as a teacher of creative writing and journalism at Milwaukee School For The Arts. Some Twitter respondents criticized his tweet but he responded by re-affirming his original tweet. Sarandos has tweeted in the past that he “hates” the Catholic Church and believes Christian conservatives should be “exterminated.” He has tweeted about “poisoning the communion wine.”

Limbaugh has disclosed on his program that he has “advanced” lung cancer and will miss a number of programs while receiving treatment. A compilation screenshot of Sarandos’ tweet about Limbaugh and his tweet about Christian conservatives is below. As of this writing, all of his tweets remain on his account. His Twitter handle is @travis_mke.

This is a link to his page:

rush-1 rush-2 rush-3 rush-4

EXCLUSIVE: Another Blow To Bayshore; Major Office Tenants Bail Out

EXCLUSIVE: Another Blow To Bayshore; Major Office Tenants Bail Out
By Mark Belling, WISN-AM

A number of businesses housed in offices at the embattled Bayshore Town Center in Glendale are moving out as their landlord indicates it is not renewing its lease. The Regus Group leases space in the Bayshore building above Trader Joe’s at Silver Spring and Port Washington. A number of small businesses lease from Regus. Regus is telling those businesses it has decided not to renew its lease with Bayshore and is leaving the mall complex in a few weeks.

Regus is moving some of the clients to the Park Place center on the far northwest side and others will be moved to other office sites.

One of the things propping up Bayshore is the number of non-retail businesses that are located at the site above retail stores. If they start to move out, Bayshore’s owners will not only face a cash shortfall, but there will be fewer people on the property to patronize the remaining stores and restaurants.

Bayshore has been struggling for the past two years and a number of its tenants have moved out. The vacancy rate is soaring. Bayshore’s owners have received a significant subsidy from Glendale to try to re-invent the complex with senior housing and more office space to make up for the departure of the retail and restaurant operators. Regus’ decision to move may question the viability of that.

Mark Belling
February 3