It was in the fourth week of June, 1966 that the council said it would no longer issue new liquor licenses for private clubs with discriminatory membership policies, and declared that ‘at some time’ after 1969, it would stop renewing the existing licenses for the three local clubs which all have ‘white’s-only’ membership in their national charters – -the Elks, Eagles and Moose. Exactly three years later, the council renews those three licenses one last time, and sets a June, 1971 deadline for the clubs to get rid of the racist restriction, or lose their liquor license.
The Equal Opportunities Commission, which initiated the policy, had recommended it become effective June 1970, but the council narrowly votes to give the three clubs an added year. Eugene Parks, the only black alderman, says he’s “disgusted” by the Council’s delay, which he calls “a classic example of liberalism that supports racial equality but not enough to do something definite, today.”
The policies, which city attorney Edwin Conrad will put into ordinance form later this summer, also bar elected and appointed city officials from belonging to clubs which practice invidious discrimination, and stop city agencies from sponsoring a function at such a club.
South side alderman and painter’s union leader Harold Babe Rohr, who fought the first equal opportunities ordinance in 1963 and every improvement since, again leads the opposition. He calls the denial of liquor licenses itself discriminatory, and said passing the ban was “telling every member he’s a racist.” And he says the three clubs open only to whites “probably do more for minority groups than the minority groups do for themselves.”
The local Elks and Eagles have already been working to change the national charter, the local Moose not so much.
Downtown Ald. Paul Soglin, who has been active in the civil rights movement since he was a teenager, wants the city to “go after the tax exemptions” of the Elks and Moose. The Eagles club is not tax exempt because of its bowling alley and tavern.
Disappointed by the delay for the ban on bars in biased clubs, Parks does get some good news on the personal front – a Dane County jury takes only 48 minutes to find him innocent of unlawful assembly during the second day of the Mifflin Block Party riot. The Madison native was arrested late in the afternoon of Sunday May 4, while standing alone at Broom and Mifflin streets, when he did not disperse on police orders. Among those testifying to Parks’ character and that he was trying to prevent any disturbances – Capital Times publisher Miles McMillin and WIBA radio personality George “Papa Hambone’ Vukelich. EOC Director Rev. James Wright says he “extremely pleased” at the outcome.
Infighting at the fire department continues as chief Ralph McGraw strikes back at Firefighters Local 311 for its strike in late March, restricting union activity and issuing an order barring all captains and lieutenants from union leadership – thus forcing Captain Ed Durkin to resign from the union presidency. McGraw denies he’s retaliating against Durkin for taking the union out on its illegal 3-day strike, but says “the strike made it perfectly clear” that having officers in the union “doesn’t serve the best interest of the city.” Although McGraw’s order is purportedly effective immediately, neither Durkin nor vice-president Lt. Charles Merkle resign and aren’t disciplined – yet. Union lawyers say they’ll take steps to stop the order, which City attorney Edwin Conrad says McGraw has the power to issue, and which the Police and Fire Commission supports. McGraw also starts to enforce a rule established in 1942 but long ignored, barring union activity from fire stations. “In view of the events that have taken place in the last year,” he says, local 311 can no long hold union elections at a station-house, or use station telephones to conduct its business. “Change takes place as conditions warrant,” McGraw explains. Union lawyers say they’ll challenge that order as well. The union does win one important battle, as the council decides not to ask the state labor agency whether the captains and lieutenants can even belong to the union. City attorney Edwin Conrad and others predict the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission would order both sets of supervisors excluded from the bargaining unit if requested to rule; McGraw and Mayor William Dyke argue strongly to request the ruling, but a resolution to do so falls two votes short.
And these names in the news.
Carlo Caputo, the State street businessman and reputed boss of the Madison La Cosa Nostra, who pleaded guilty to income tax evasion for reporting income of $700 in a year he really made thirty one thousand, gets a slap on the wrist from federal judge James E. Doyle – thirty days in the Dane County Jail, then 23 months on probation. Although the Sicilian immigrant is a very successful downtown restaurateur and property owner, his attorney says Caputo can neither read nor write English, and didn’t understand the income tax forms.
Austin Campbell, a co-founder of the Williamson -Marquette neighborhood center, who was recently appointed to the city commission in charge of federal anti-poverty programs, is revealed by the Capital Times to have been an officer in the local committee supporting Alabama Gov. George Wallace in last year’s presidential primary. Mayor Dyke says he was completely unaware of Campbell’s support for the segregationist states-righter when he appointed him to the Community Action Commission in April. Campbell was also involved in the anti-urban renewal Madison Home Owners Association, which tried to get the Madison Redevelopment Authority abolished in 1964. CAC chairman Lendell Allston says the agency is supposed to see all sides of an issue, so “I can’t think of any objection we might have to his past political leanings.” Campbell says he doesn’t think it’s anybody’s business what party he supports.
The council adopts a resolution commending Mrs. Keith Symon, former chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, for her contributions to human relations in Madison. Symon was appointed by liberal Mayor Otto Festge in 1965 and not reappointed by the conservative Dyke after his election two months ago. The council is unaware that as Mary Louise Symon, she will chair the Dane County Board of Supervisors from 1974-1980, the first woman in Wisconsin to chair a county board.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For the award-winning WORT News team, I’m Stu Levitan