The Greenfield Common Council’s Legislative Committee may not have enough votes to send a proposed ordinance restricting where released sex offenders can live on to the full Common Council. The measure would then be killed, even though neighboring Greendale recently approved a similar ordinance modeled after Franklin’s groundbreaking laws that have been ruled constitutional.
The Legislative Committee meets this Monday, September 15 at 6:30 at Greenfield City Hall to consider the proposed ordinance that is in serious trouble of going down to defeat. The only sure vote is from the Greenfield alderman who’s introduced the ordinance, Linda Lubotsky.
I attended the August 18th meeting of the committee and watched as Franklin Alderman Steve Olson testified and fielded questions, many from Greenfield Alderman Tom Pietrowski. Pietrowski clearly has issues with the idea and from his statements appears more concerned about the sex offenders than their potential victims. Greenfield Alderman Shirley Saryan doesn’t sound too promising when she admits she’s confused by Franklin’s ordinances.
Here is the portion of the minutes from the August 18th committee meeting about the proposed ordinance that have been posted on the City of Greenfield website:
Discussion was held regarding the restrictiveness of such an ordinance.
Ald. Pietrowski voiced his concerns regarding the people who have served their time in prison and have paid their due. He is concerned about excluding people from the community and not dealing with the real issue of rehabilitation and counseling.
Matt Rajala, 4611 South 46th Street, addressed the committee stating that we’re dealing with sex offenders who prey on children and they need to be monitored.
(Franklin) Ald. Steve Olson addressed the committee citing examples of sexual assault victims. He said “our part is to manage the safety of the community and we as aldermen do not provide treatment to offenders, that’s not our responsibility”.
Ald Lubotsky referenced a list of municipalities who have adopted and failed to pass sex offender ordinances.
Scott Jaquish, Director of Parks and Recreation, addressed his concerns and asked about the child who’s parent is a sex offender, and can they not go to the child’s summer activity at the park?
A lengthy discussion continued and this item will be placed on the next agenda.
The Greenfield Common Council has on file a letter written by state Senator Mary Lazich in support of the proposed ordinance:
Alderperson Linda Lubotsky
City of Greenfield
7325 West Forest Home Ave
Greenfield, WI 53220
Dear Alderperson Lubotsky,
I write in support of efforts by the City of Greenfield to enact an ordinance placing restrictions on sex offenders. Sex offender restriction ordinances provide protection for families and children.
During previous sessions of the Wisconsin Legislature, I pursued sex predator legislation and worked with the group Citizens for a Safe Wisconsin based in Franklin. Through our efforts, a bill I authored was approved and signed into law that eliminated funding for a proposed Milwaukee County facility for sexually violent persons and also disbanded the special committee assigned to find a location for the facility. Another bill I authored that was signed into law makes first degree sexual assault of a child punishable by life in prison. A bill I co-sponsored was signed into law requiring that the worst sex offenders in the state be monitored by Global Positioning System or GPS.
These bills served as the catalyst for Citizens for a Safe Wisconsin to help City of Franklin officials draft a milestone ordinance approved late in 2006 and amended in early 2007 that restricts sex offenders’ living locations. Franklin’s ordinance has served as the model for 35 other Wisconsin municipalities that have either adopted or considered similar ordinances. Franklin’s ordinance provides that sexually violent persons on supervised release may not live within two thousand feet of various places children congregate. The Franklin Police Department has used the city ordinance force offenders out of areas they are not welcome.
Restrictive sex offender ordinances have held up to court challenges. Jim McCarthy, a member of the City Council in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania wrote the following in a letter to the editor in the American City and County Magazine during the summer of 2007. McCarthy was responding to an article that predator protection laws around the country are coming under fire. McCarthy writes:
“My research shows the majority of such laws have already passed court muster. Currently, 30 plus states, and hundreds of local communities, have passed such laws. The courts have ruled that these laws do not infringe upon a person's rights in that they are a form of civil regulation and not a form of punishment, they are intended to protect children and are rationally related to that end, and they represent a rational argument that prohibiting sex offenders from places children congregate will advance a community's interest in protecting children.
There have been some isolated cases where a poorly written law was struck down by courts, but that was because the authors failed to do the research required to make their law iron-clad. It is up to us, the legislators, to make sure “they” do not have access to our little children, whose rights far outweigh the rights of someone who preys on the weakest of our society.”
I applaud the City of Greenfield for initiating action to protect children and all citizens, and wish you and your colleagues success in this effort.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or advice for me, please contact me.
Senate District 28
The Franklin-based group, “Citizens for a Safe Wisconsin” has written an open letter to Greenfield residents posted on GreenfieldNOW that says, in part, “local municipalities are acting in their own defense to enact residency restrictions to protect themselves from t he bulk placement of sex predators. We believe local communities are best suited to assess their own areas that are most appropriate for sex predator residences in terms of population density, physical terrain, etc... “
What can Greenfield residents do? Plenty. But there isn’t much time.
1) Attend the Greenfield Legislative Committee meeting Monday at 6:30 at Greenfield City Hall.
2) Attend the Greenfield Legislative Committee meeting Monday at 6:30 at Greenfield City Hall and testify in support of the proposed ordinance.
3) Contact the aldermen on the Legislative Committee, especially Pietrowski and Saryan and politely, respectfully voice your support for the proposed ordinance.
4) Tell as many other Greenfield friends and neighbors about this issue. Forward them this blog.
5) All of the above.
What’s it going to be, Greenfield?
Do you really want this ordinance to be shot down, leaving your city without sex offender restrictions while Greendale and Franklin have tough restrictions in place?
Do you want Greenfield to be an island?
Or will you take a stand for your children, your families, your neighbors, your community?
How important is the safety of your children and neighborhoods?
It’s your call, Greenfield.