March 31, 2011

About that claim that it could cost $7.5 million to clean up and restore the Wisconsin Capitol buidling.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has discovered the estimate was done on a single handwritten page. 

So? If I understand correctly, the state was required to come up with an estimate in the context of the court proceeding about access to the Capitol. There was a sudden demand for a dollar figure, the activities threatening the building were in progress and escalating, and the state was focused — at least, in part — on protecting the historical building.

The MJS, revealing bias or ignorance, writes:
Much of the concern about possible damage centered on possible effects on the marble walls from residues left by tape used to hang protest signs. But most of those signs were hung with painter's tape, and so far few if any effects can be seen from it in the Capitol.
I know, from personal observation, that a great deal of masking and duct tape was used. Some vigilant protesters were very active in spotting that tape and replacing it with the blue painter's tape so anyone looking around might think it's all painter's tape, but underneath that better tape was the damage done by the worse tape, and, moreover, even the painter's tape was damaging. The risk to that marble was real, and the high estimate of the restoration cost was understandable, even if it was exaggerated.

$145 million was spent restoring the Capitol in 2001, much of it on the old stone that was suffering ongoing damage when that court proceeding took place.

Now, using the high-end number in court had a political downside, because it was used by the protesters to mock and discredit the government, but the need to protect the building was real, and their mockery irritated me because of the way they put their own interests above the care for the public property. Think of something analogous. For example, imagine a factory polluting a river, and environmentalists who are making a big deal about what is a modest amount of pollution after the factory owner had taken some precautions to minimize the pollution. Picture the factory owner preening about the precautions and laughing at the environmentalists for getting all hysterical. The environmentalists would be enraged. That's how I feel about the Capitol building and the "we used painter's tape" argument.

48 comments:

Hoosier Daddy said...

Imagine the multiplier effect that cleanup would have on the Wisconsin economy!

PaulV said...

Under the circumstances of the occupation of the Capitol, it was surely an known unknown. Did "up to" modify the estimate.

AllenS said...

$7.5 million is chump change. Hell, we owe Minnesota about $60 million.

PaulV said...

Daddy, do you mean how many state employees need to be fired to pay for damage.

Quayle said...

Welcome to our wonderful post modern world.

Every fact is malleable for political ends.

Every statement is fodder in "the big game."

Expat(ish) said...

@annalthouse "their mockery irritated me because of the way they put their own interests above the care for the public property"

Yep.

Welcome to my world. I had to stop watching TV news before I went Elvis on the flatscreen.

-XC

lawyapalooza said...

It does matter, because lawyers have an ethical responsibility to ensure they have sufficiently researched their allegations before signing their names to legal pleadings. The state did not meet this standard at all, as they had the opportunity to obtain preliminary quotes from neutrals (remember, the staff in the capitol immediately dismissed this claim as bs, as did other experts who toured the building). By putting out a hysterical and grossly exaggerated number in a court document, people all over the country still believe the damage was done and that it was a violent protest. You and I both know this was not unintentional. It was a purposeful act to try to discredit the protesters.

If I put such a ridiculous claim in a legal document, you can bet I would be hauled into court to explain myself, and I sure as hell better have something more than a handwritten note.

Hagar said...

Do not underestimate a state agency's ability to spend money when directed to accomplish a laudable objective without specific limitations imposed!

MadisonMan said...

What Hagar said.

Any estimate for work to be done -- especially if it comes from the government agency doing the work -- should never be believed, ever.

bagoh20 said...

It seems to me that in both the Capitol and your pollution analogy the concern is overstated and the side doing the minimizing is the more reasonable. The anger in both cases is just an emotional reaction to the other party not sharing your outrage. It is a good analogy.

Lukedog said...

I'm not a law-professor but I don't think that is an appropriate analogy.

Pollution in a river would potentially have an impact on wildlife and humans health, safety, and livelihood. The fishing industry, tourism, drinking water are just a few things that can be affected by factory run-off even in small amounts.

Maybe if the tape residue caused asthma or looking at the residue caused visual impairment. Or if the tape residue caused people to become disoriented and run into the pillars. Or if people stopped wanting to visit the capitol because the residue was too unsightly. Maybe if any of those things were true, it would be a reasonable analogy.

garage mahal said...

Scott Walker and the WI GOP have proven themselves to be pillars of honesty and integrity. I refuse to believe this etimate written on (is that a cocktail napkin?) was severly inflated to discredit protesters.

bagoh20 said...

Marble and rivers are emotional issues.

Quayle said...

Lawya, et. al., you're missing the point:

1. the paper of WI record said blue tape was predominantly used. Ann contradicts that based on her own extensive observations.

2. That the estimate was hand written on a page has no bearing on its accuracy or lack of accuracy.

(I know people that can estimate software development costs on the back of an envelope and be amazing accurate.)

The point is what is the accurate and valid number?

But what political leftists are showing us again is that they don't care what the true facts and numbers are - it is all a just a mindless scrum.

damikesc said...

Gm, for what its worth, nobody gives a damn what you believe.

bagoh20 said...

Fixing the Capitol is a job saved or created.

roesch-voltaire said...

Cry me a river, but not over the napkin on which I estimate the costs of clean-up.

bagoh20 said...

It was not on a napkin. Even if it was, putting those same numbers on legal paper along with 20 more pages of documentation, which I have no doubt a lawyer could create, would not change a thing...except to lawyers and other dishonest types.

kate said...

While it's a waste of my time and energy to take things I don't contol all too seriously, I'll wait for Charles Quagliana's (neighbor and former business colleague) estimate, thank you (this number was suspious, for any of reasons, from the start).

lawyapalooza said...

"But what political leftists are showing us again is that they don't care what the true facts and numbers are - it is all a just a mindless scrum."

Are you kidding me? It is the right-wingers who put out the number $7.5 million, when in fact it is closer to $350,000 -at best. How on earth can you say the "leftists" are the ones not showing the real numbers.

As for Ann's extensive "reports," they have been proven wrong time and time again. In this case, even the administration who put out such crap had to finally admit they were wrong. Yes, people originally taped up signs with maksing tape (I never personally saw duct tape, but it may well have been used), that was very quickly corrected as soon as people understood it could cause damage. Hardly the raging lunatic mob you folks keep portraying.

cryptical said...

"Only" $350,000 worth of damage? That's a relief.

Where do the taxpayers of Wisconsin send the bill?

Drew said...

. . . and their mockery irritated me because of the way they put their own interests above the care for the public property.

They weren't even trying to disguise it. I heard over and over that any damage to the capitol was understandable and excusable given that people were "fighting for their livelihoods!"

So let's play the "What if the Tea Party did it" game. Naw, that's too easy. Fish in a barrel.

phx said...

There are many things for us all to be enraged about in this modern world, no doubt.

The "we used painter's tape" argument is certainly going to be one of those things that enrages some people.

edutcher said...

I take it the paper can't believe whomever made the estimate didn't need a calculator to do the math.

Ann Althouse said...

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has discovered the estimate was done on a single handwritten page.

Sounds like a bunch of Copperheads who refused to believe Abe dashed off the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope.

Any old Copperhead rags operate in Madison back then?

virgil xenophon said...

But this is all nothing new. How many photographs are there extant in the public domain from the 60s anti-war demonstrations onward until this very day in which public monuments of all types are shown defaced--often by spray-paint--by the leftist demonstrators? (who often are seen using the monument itself as a rallying point) Such actions are SOP for the left--ALL excused as being done in the name of the "higher cause."

And of course it doesn't hurt that most of the monuments being defaced are erected in memory of dead white males of European ancestry--the vilest of the vile.

traditionalguy said...

Sort of like Cash For Capitol Clunkers. Seriously, the blank check method that the Governments are using is the real problem. Even the competitive bids laws are usually all a hoax and the bids are thrown out except for the chosen friend's bid that can always be found as the only one qualified. Government is by definition a legal monopoly. In today's "private sector" our evolving fascist government/business connection is chosing whom recieves grant money and whom is given business.Then that "Private Business" steps into the shoes of the Government's monopoly, and bills at will. Where else are you going to go? Fascism , like slavery, is the best idea ever thought of for the favored masters and monopolists, but is a cruel prison of poverty caused by the suddenly higher prices for basic needs that all others must pay.

bagoh20 said...

I think the damage was pretty minimal for a leftist protest, especially considering the length of time it went on. We can thank the Tea Party for that. They set a standard the left now has to try and match. They never will, and in the near future if things keep going badly for them, the attempt will be abandoned, because it just isn't what they are about. Conserving stuff is conservative.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I guess you all don't understand the meaning of the term..estimate.

Also given the short period of time that the State was required to provide the .....estimate, it is unreasonable to nit pick the amount. It is an ESTIMATE people.

Estimates are always ballpark figures and never exactly the final result.

Quayle said...

"How on earth can you say the "leftists" are the ones not showing the real numbers."

Numbers are numbers, they are correct or wrong. Just give us the right number, if it isn't $7.5M, and show us how you arrived at $350K.

But no, it's all about the emotion isn't it? About that surge of feeling righteous and powerful as a group.

But what Ann is really saying, it seems to me, is that the protestors don't care about defacing property, and don't seem to care about taking responsibility and apologizing for it, they only care about me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

To hell with collateral damage in the hundreds of thousands of dollars - our leftist clan is really feeling it tonight!

Me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Pastafarian said...

Ugh, you teabaggers quibbling over trivialities.

It's only $350,000. That's chump-change, a triviality, a rounding error. Hell, lawyapalooza will gladly pay that out of his own pocket, just to shut you up.

Right, lawyapalooza?

Pastafarian said...

Quayle said: "...show us how you arrived at $350K."

Well, I can assure you, Quayle, that his rigorous calculations include more than one, even several, sheets of paper.

And I'm pretty sure it made use of advanced computer modeling, run on a supercomputer at IBM's Watson Research Center.

Right, lawyapalooza?

(Why does typing that screen name make me feel ill, by the way?)

lawyapalooza said...

The $350,000 is the admitted number now from the DOA. I didn't make that up, and you could have found that out if instead of ignoring the truth that the original "estimate," entered as a fact in a legal pleading, was exaggerated twenty-fold. That's hardly a "mistake."

In terms of paying the damage, unlike almost all of you (including Meade), I am a Wisconsin taxpayer and will gladly pay my share. However, had the Walker folks engaged in any semblance of real debate and open meetings, this would not have happened. Perhaps a reversal of the massive tax breaks for the Koch brothers would help pay the $350,000.

A fact-- yes, look it up people-- now that they have had time to read the 1,000 page crap they almost passed in knee-jerk reaction, Republicans are actively speaking out against significant portions of the budget bill. Similarly, many voters who now have had the time to digest the contents of the bill and its impact are publicly stating that they would not have supported it had they known.

Shockingly, the people were right. Again. Taking the time to stop, think, and debate matters.

campy said...

Imagine the outrage when the JS discovers the Declaration of Independence is only a single, handwritten page.

Crimso said...

"In terms of paying the damage, unlike almost all of you (including Meade), I am a Wisconsin taxpayer"

Unless I misunderstand, this is a reference to Meade's supposed lack of a job. Setting aside that questionable assumption, do you not have any sales taxes in WI? If you do, I can scarcely believe Meade purchases nothing in WI.

lawyapalooza said...

What is questionable about the assumption that Meade doesn't have a job? If he has no income and he is buying things, Ann is paying the sales tax. Actually, since my tax dollars go to pay Ann...

I'm still waiting for the people alleging I made up the $350,000 figure to apologize for the personal attacks. Oh wait, facts don't matter here, what was I thinking?

reader_iam said...

lawyapalooza: So long as my husband and I are married, filing jointly, we are taxpayers regardless of whether one or the other or both are generating income.

Way to personalize via silly sideswipe something that's really none of your business.

----

The ongoing "kept-man" innuendo gets really, really tiresome.

MadisonMan said...

$145 million was spent restoring the Capitol in 2001

That number was the one that made me suspicious that the estimate was ridiculously high. There was tons of work on the tile work in the dome, plus all the tuck pointing outside, and stone work inside and out, and damage was estimated to be 1/20th of that?

No one in Government has any sense of math.

Crimso said...

"If he has no income"

As the Spartans replied to Philip II: "If."

Hazy Dave said...

They should use "revealing bias or ignorance" on their masthead. (Speaking as a 25+ year subscriber to the hybrid paper and its antecedents.)

Original Mike said...

I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble imagining any real, lasting damage to marble from tape; painter's, scotch, or 8-track.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble imagining any real, lasting damage to marble from tape; painter's, scotch, or 8-track.

Marble is very sensitive to acidity since it is esentially a Calcite substance (calcium carbonate)and it is a base element. Acid rain can completely disolve marble statues. Water that has an acidic composition can ruin marble. This is why marble that isn't completely sealed can stain terribly.

Many types of tape and cleaning solutions are acidic to some extent and will cause dulling of the polished surface and if left in contact long enough and with a high enough acidic content will cause pitting of the surface.

When the surface is pitted you can either...live with pock marked marble or have to polish the stone to a level below the pitting. A very expensive, time consuming and damaging process.

I imagine that the carelessness and thoughtlessness of the protestors has probably caused significant and possibly irreparable damage.

How much it will cost is immaterial to the fact that there is damage that will have to be paid for by the taxpayers since there is no way to bill the morons who did the damage.

Original Mike said...

DBQ: I'm not surprised at that. What would surprise me is if any real damage is done over the space of a couple of weeks.

Phil 3:14 said...

Lawya..;
reversal of the massive tax breaks for the Koch brothers would help pay the $350,000.

Is that a macro in your Word software?

mariner said...

Well, we all know that handwritten estimates aren't as truthy as nicely-laid-out word-processed estimates.

And one-page estimates are less truthy than 2000+-page estimates.

mariner said...

My vote for thread winner is Campy @ 11:22.

sarge said...

now sarge did sumit a bid o nthis here 7.5 mil job undercut DOA sum at 2.5 mil figured sarge an there drunk buddies could fix the place up right in about 3 houers wiv a 6 buck spray bottle of simple green an some paper towel leave plenty o cash for beer an tac-os but this bitch huesbch he dont never call. must by some sorta krautish dominatrix lookin fer some republicrat sub to lick that tape slime off in leather underwears

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