Mayor says changes needed at CCB to protect employees

Feces found in Madison courtroom prompts health, safety conversation
Mayor says changes needed at CCB to protect employees

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said changes are needed to protect employees at the City-County Building after Madison municipal court workers arrived at work Wednesday morning to find one of the courtroom walls covered with excrement.

Kelly McConnell, a judicial support clerk, sent an email and photo to Soglin, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and many other public officials detailing her frustrations.

“So THIS was found in the courtroom this morning as we were trying to get ready for court!” McConnell wrote. “Someone has been in the courtroom, AGAIN, and defecated in the courtroom itself. When will SOMEONE do something about what is going on in this building???!!!”

The email was sent to News 3 by one of its recipients. It is not the first time that McConnell, who is the first to arrive at her office, has complained to city and county leaders about security issues near the municipal courtroom. The week of Thanksgiving, McConnell sent Soglin, Parisi and others the arrest report of a man who was found sleeping on a couch in the judge’s chambers. McConnell said there have been prior situations of defecation in the building as well.

“We have had a few incidents of a homeless person breaking into the courtroom at night and sleeping in the press room that’s right off of the courtroom,” McConnell said in an email to News 3. “This person did defecate on the couch that was in the press room and they have since had to throw away the couch.”

Alder Paul Skidmore said city officials share McConnell’s concerns. He said he personally has had to clean up a stairwell after he spotted someone urinating.

“Unfortunately, this is a situation that’s happened regularly over a period of time,” he said. “It poses a security risk for all employees and visitors to this building.”

Soglin said he proposed changes to behavior rules for the City-County Building. Those rule changes would have allowed Madison police to enforce the rules and remove individuals who violated them. The proposal failed to get enough support from the eight members of the City-County Liaison Committee, which oversees the City-County Building. Soglin believes that changes are needed to protect the health and safety of employees.

“There’s very little regard for the well-being and safety standard,” Soglin said. “Let me put it this way: If this kind of activity that took place in this building were taking place in a private building, we — the city — would be strictly enforcing the law.”

However, Alder Mark Clear said the proposed change Soglin mentioned regarded the ability for Madison police to enforce the building rules outside of the CCB. Clear said MPD can and does enforce the building rules inside the building and county staff have the authority to ban people from the building for rule violations.

Mary Kolar, a Dane County supervisor and member of the City-County Liaison Committee, told News 3 that the committee is exploring options to increase security at the City-County Building. She said they are looking into the feasibility and cost of using Madison police officers or private security companies to monitor the building.

Clear, who co-chairs the City County Liaison Committee with Kolar, said they had a meeting Tuesday with county staff and the Madison Police Department to talk about the recent security incidents in the building.

“Clearly, we have a security problem in parts of the building, and the committee has no tolerance for illegal activities that threaten the safety or hygiene of our employees and facilities,” Clear said in an email. “Neither MPD nor facilities maintenance are appropriate agencies to be responsible for day-to-day security of the building, so we are looking at what other options might be available. We also may schedule a special meeting of the committee if we determine that changes to the building rules are needed.”

Kolar said they are hoping to have that information for possible action at the committee’s meeting in January.