The Sheriff's Department maintains recall volunteers need a permit in Pritchard Park even though they are standing public land - petitioning their government - a protected activity by not only the Wisconsin State Constitution, but also the United States Constitution.
They are citing County ordinance 14.71 which reads:
No person shall hold or take part in any musical, theatrical or other entertainment or any parade, procession or public meeting or gathering of any kind, or make any political or religious address, oration, harangue or demonstration of any kind in any county park or recreational area without a written permission from the public works committee.
(Code 1975, § 6.013(6))
So, one guy in a truck which has a sign in the truck who is hanging out on public land to see if anyone wants to stop and sign his petition constitutes a public meeting of political oration. As such, Racine County believes he needs to obtain written permission from the public works committee.
When volunteers ask the county if the permit costs money - they don't know. When they ask who decided a permit was necessary - they don't know. (Rumor has it was an unnamed County Supervisor who said it and everyone else fell in line.) The Corporation Counsel (County Attorney) didn't make the ruling, County Sheriff Chris Schmaling didn't make the ruling and County Executive Jim Ladwig didn't make the ruling.
So who did?
This slow-walk of democracy has not been aided much by the State Democratic Party, who have called and gotten lost the black-hole of "we're not sure, we'll call you back." Recall volunteers suspect Madison would prefer they just move somewhere else and leave them alone. Why? All party spokesman Graeme Zelinski has to do is issue one statement to the press about it and the media blows the hole quiet mess up.
Meanwhile, volunteers are still being escorted out of the park and the clock ticks away without answers - which was probably the plan all along.
For a whole bunch of hardworking volunteers, Pritchard Park has become a symbol to them bigger than just getting recall signatures. The Siren suggests volunteers remain at Pritchard and when the Sheriff comes by and asks them if they have a permit to be there, they say: "Yes. the Wisconsin State Constitution."