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Jul 29, 201307:37 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Why does our district attorney let criminals off with a mere slap on the wrist?

(page 1 of 2)

Madison will never get a handle on its quality of life issues until it gets over its race guilt. That is some of the baggage that comes with professing the progressive faith. It results in its own kind of racism, the soft racism of low expectations, of excusing the inexcusable, of double standards that hurt both victim and aggressor.

A 10-year-old boy was mugged by a man who jumped out of a car, took the boy’s iPhone, and got back into the car driven by an accomplice. This occurred in the middle of the afternoon of Monday, July 23, near the intersection of Hammersley Road and Whitney Way on the city’s southwest side.

The Capital Newspapers report included a description of the two assailants, including age, height, hair style, tattoos, facial hair, gender, and race. The assailants were identified as members of a minority race.

When that report was shared with neighbors, the new president of the Meadowood neighborhood, Krista Ralston, objected:

It’s always better to be well informed and search for open-minded, holistic solutions than to simply complain, or jump to disturbing, unproductive and fear-mongering conclusions about perceived problems in our community. Obviously it is important to be aware of criminal behavior in our neighborhoods and take all necessary precautions, but let’s not over-blow the “problem.” [Her quotation marks] Unfortunately, crime happens but ...

Do you hear that? The “perceived problem.” If we can’t admit that there is a problem, how can we solve it?

Yes, let’s not “over-blow” the “problem.” But what about under-blowing the problem? If it was one stolen cell phone, she might have a point. Police Chief Noble Wray came to this part of town in 2009 to hold a press conference begging residents to stop the shooting. A week or two later, a 17-year-old kid was popped. On June 28 of this year, 75 residents of the Betty’s Lane/Theresa Terrace area of west Hammersley Road went at it with fists, rakes, rocks, brass knuckles, and other weapons. To the melee, 24 police and three ambulances responded. (The police report.) Hey, “crime happens.”

Charged with three felonies in a street shootout; perp gets probation

MPD Officer Caleb Johnson

DA Ismael Ozanne

Late last week, the beat cop who patrols that hot spot, Officer Caleb Johnson, issued this report:

To whom it may concern,

Many of you have expressed concern over the recent gun violence on Madison’s west side and have inquired about what the police department is doing to address this escalating problem. One particularly troubling incident took place on March 30, 2013, where multiple cars were involved in a rolling gun battle that traveled from Raymond Road through residential neighborhoods to Hammersley Road.

The Madison Police Department invested a great deal of resources into responding to this incident and following through with the investigation to determine the vehicles involved, the passengers, and the suspects who were firing the weapons. As part of this investigation, Michael Gales was arrested by the Madison Police Department and charged with three felony crimes, Discharge Firearm/Vehicle-Towards Person [941.20(3)(a)1], Discharge Firearm/Vehicle-Bldg/Vehicle [941.20(3)(a)2], and Endanger Safety/Reckless Use of Firearm [941.20(2)(a)]. 

I regret to inform you that Gales has been released as he has accepted a plea agreement that leaves him with three years of probation and no jail/prison time. With the plea agreement the charges ... were dismissed. Details from this case can be viewed on CCAP [here].

I wanted to share the outcome of this incident with the community because it illustrates some of the challenges that the police department faces and sheds light on why some of these violent criminals continue to roam the streets even after they have been arrested and charged with numerous serious crimes.

A rolling gun battle! Can’t we tone down such disturbing, unproductive, and fear-mongering language?


Old to new | New to old
Jul 29, 2013 02:41 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Unfortunately, you have a District Attorney and a Chief of Police who are both, at very best, inept and at worst, bordering on incompetent.

These issues have been going on for years in the D.A's Office during Ozanne's tenure and can be attested to by many officers and detectives within the Police Department, attorneys who have fled the sinking ship of that office and victim's who's cases do not get charged. The D.A. himself is only interested in his public persona and political future. He was originally a political appointee, selected by Gov. Doyle over a huge hue and cry for other much more qualified candidates to be chosen instead.

Internally in the Police Department, officers and detectives are stifled by Police Chief Wray and his Administration when they complain openly about the District Attorney, his staff and the poor or non-existent charging decisions that are routinely made.

This issue is absolutely nothing new and you will find hundreds of examples if you take the time to speak with members of the police department who bring good, solid criminal cases to the D.A.'s Office, only to have them declined because of the lack of leadership at the helm of the D.A.'s Office.

Jul 31, 2013 04:13 am
 Posted by  madisonexpat

The silence around this incident and this issue is deafening.

Madison, there is an elephant in the room. He is armed and a willing, if incompetent marksman. This will cost you.

How many victims will your tolerance allow? One? Two? Ten?

Jul 31, 2013 11:39 am
 Posted by  Zeus

This problem is far from new, although it's becoming more widespread and the criminals have become more aggressive due to the lack of consequences. Back in the late 80's/early 90's (coincidentally also under Soglin's watch), Madison denied it had a gang problem until it became to large to ignore.

The Madison liberals continued to point fingers in any direction they could until they could no longer stand the cesspool they created. What to do, what to do. Hey! Now that we've made Madison unlivable, let's move to Stoughton, or Sun Prairie, or Oregon, or Verona and let's start the entire process again! Anywhere they move, they bring their unrealistic dream of creating their "Great Society" that ends up just screwing up more towns and neighborhoods. The ridiculousness has to stop!!

It's beyond time to make personal responsibility fashionable once again! Until we quit making excuses for criminals and don't expect them to act lawfully and with respect for others, nothing will change. It wouldn't hurt to stamp out liberalism either, the scourge of the world.

Jul 31, 2013 07:48 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

How about two other serious cases recently where the lenient DA once again let the criminals get away with crimes that should have meant long jail terms for the perpetrators. One was the gang member who shot and killed an opposing gang member last year on Fordem Avenue. Know what the DA's office charged him with? Reckless endangerment! That's much worse than all the media hype given to the George Zimmerman case. Then... there was another case where the husband tried to kill his wife by kidnapping her, putting her in a storage locker, and then poured gasoline on her. Another first degree homicide charge that the DA's office plea bargained down the penalty.
Outrageous! It's his way of telling criminals to come to Madison - you won't get punished here. This DA must go - vote him out of office. He is a disgrace to law enforcement.

Jul 31, 2013 10:53 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

The prosecuting attorneys are doing the best they can with the shamefully inadequate resources they have been given. As public safety has risen to the top of the list of issues in Madison over the last 10 years the police department has continued to increase their authorized strength significantly... it only makes sense that the DA's office grow proportionally. Lets not point fingers at the DA's office... The politicians that have prevented the necessary staffing increases from taking place need to be held accountable.

Aug 1, 2013 06:01 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

The officer and neighborhood members have put together a Facebook group along with a petition to rally support for increased DA funding.

Aug 1, 2013 12:30 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

While I believe Mr. Blaska sincerely cares about reducing crime, it seems disingenuous to claim that the District Attorney simply doesn't care about prosecuting offenders.

Furthermore, this is hardly a liberal vs. conservative issue. I doubt a survey of Madison liberals would find opposition to prosecution of violent offenders.

Is there more to this story? Is the DA's office in fact short of resources?

Aug 3, 2013 10:59 am
 Posted by  madisonexpat


Clearly Blaska DOES care and you do not except maybe in a dilettante, liberal sort of way. We can tell because he decries the discounting of the crime and you only provide red herrings and "nuance".
This damn sure IS a liberal vs. conservative issue because it is nothing if not a political issue.

P.S. The only time a liberal says someting is not a liberal/conservative issue is when the liberal argument is already lost.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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