Quarter to three in the morning of September 26, a bomb—between fifteen and twenty sticks of dynamite with a timing device—explodes at the National Guard armory on Wright Street, ripping through steel and sending the armory door flying forty yards into the drill hall, where it damages gear assembled for a monthlong training program in riot-control the Dane County Sheriff is running for three hundred lawmen from twenty county municipalities. The explosion, which occurs about an hour after a similar explosion damaged the federal building in downtown Milwaukee, does about $25,000 in damage, and forces the training to be moved to the shooting range in Verona.
In a possibly related development, Madison police will become the highest paid or any city in Wisconsin, and the highest paid in the nation for cities of comparable size, outside California, as the council approves a 2-year contract bringing patrolmen with 3 and a half years service to an even ten thousand dollars on new year’s day 1970. It’s the first 2-year contract the city has ever had with any of its four unions. The contract also improves several fringe benefits, including providing double pay for all hours in excess of twelve in a shift – something happening with increasing frequency, due to protests on campus and at the Capitol.
In a definitely related development, serious crime in Madison is up 9%, primarily in larceny, auto theft and aggravated assault. There have been two murders, compared to none at this time last year. This while Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s other large cities report that crime is dropping. Echoing comments made earlier this year by police chief Wilbur Emery, Capt. Stanley Davenport attributes the increase to “the liberal attitudes” of the courts, particularly how easy it is to get probation.
Draft resister Ken Vogel, under federal indictment after failing to report for induction into the armed services, declares victory and leaves the First Congregational Church, twelve days after he took sanctuary there. That night, a motion to censure the ministers and executive council for allowing Vogel and scores of his supporters to stay in the chapel is defeated, 193-174. A motion that it’s the church’s right “to provide comfort and counsel to anyone who comes to us” is adopted, 215-170. Civil rights and peace activist Helen Vukelich, a member of the executive council wife of radio personality and author George Vukelich, calls the vote an endorsement of leadership’s actions. Vogel, who returned to the church to watch the meeting, celebrated that he had “exposed the state’s reluctance to violate the church’s sanctuary, and set a precedent which our departure at this time insures will be significant.” He and about 50 supporters then march over to the Resistence House, 211 Langdon Street, to await what he presumes will be imminent arrest.
Just when it looked like the council would finally make a decision on the future of mass transit in Madison –a brief extension of the current contract with the private Madison Bus Company, followed by city purchase and the hiring of a new management team to run the system – outside forces intervene. With Father James Groppi and 1800 welfare rights protesters and supportive students occupying the state Assembly chambers and Capitol lawn, Mayor Dyke is so apprehensive about a riot breaking out, he asks the council to adjourn early without completing its work. “The mayor feels it would be best for the council to adjourn and return to their homes,” city administrator Robert Corcoran tells the alders. “The situation is very tense at the moment.” Although some grumble it’s just a ploy, they comply.
Assembly speaker Harold Froelich, the Appleton conservative generally considered the most powerful man in state government, opens a new attack on the university of Wisconsin – going after the $11m appropriation to build the Communication Arts building on the south east corner of university and park. Froelich says the state can’t afford it, and draws a non-existent connection between the proposed Comm Arts building and the so-called nude Peter Pan from exactly a year ago.
David and James Carley promised former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi he would become a rich man if he agreed to become chairman of the board of their development company, Public Facilities. This week, he did, as a company Public Facilities recently merged with, Scholz Homes, agrees to be bought by Inland Steel for $80 million. Based on their stock holdings, the Carleys will share about $11.6 million, while Lombadi will receive $1.9 million.
The school board takes a stand in favor of sex education, directing superintendent Douglas Ritchie to testify against an assembly bill that would all but ban teaching it in the public schools. The bill, which would permit only “the traditional teaching of physiology, biology or physical hygiene” has already passed the assembly and is set for a senate hearing,
It’s the greatest week ever for Madisonians who love the blues. B.B. King and Buddy Rich, back to back at DJ’s, out East Washington past the interstate. Howlin Wolf, Richie Havens and Luther Allison at the two-day UW Folk-Rock Festival at the Field House and Union Theater. And at the Nitty Gritty, Super Blues week brings two nights of Otis Spahn, four nights of Charles Musslewhite and two more nights of the hard-working Luther Allison.
For the award-winning WORT News, I’m Stu Levitan