Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Dale Schmidt

Unshackle the People

From the pen (keyboard) of former Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt.

On March 12th, Governor Evers declared a public health emergency.  While his reason for the declaration may have sounded sensible, the orders he issued changed life for Wisconsin’s residents and businesses drastically.  As we can see today, the orders were clearly a quick stop-gap response to the virus showing up in Wisconsin.  Initially, their reach may be understandable as it provided time for information gathering and intelligent analysis of the problem.  However, in America, when you make the decision to shutter businesses and restrict civil liberties to this extent, the next immediate priority must be finding a way to repeal that decision.  That does not appear to be a priority for the Governor right now as the apparent strategy is to control the people and let the virus run its course where it can.  We played defense enough, now we should be on offense.

This virus, and maybe more in the future, will be present for some time.  Our economy, livelihoods and civil rights cannot accept these intrusive government restrictions any longer.  We need to figure out how to have what we had before even with the virus present in our population.  For this to happen, government needs to immediately transition from control of people, to a resource for the people.  At this point, the only way to repeal that declaration is to cede the problem that caused it to the people and let them solve it organically.  In other words, unleash the people and business owners to figure out the new normal.  The state’s greatest resources, it residents and businesses, have been benched when needed the most.

Governor Evers needs to significantly refine his orders and repeal all parts that restrict individuals and businesses.  The orders, updated frequently with recent data, should contain only meaningful “guidance” on best practices with reasons why they are important.  The rest should only have to do with utilizing state resources and rules pertaining to government services such as unemployment.

Let’s have faith in our people and businesses.  They will voluntarily follow guidance that makes sense.  We have already seen exempted businesses make their own adjustments so customers feel safe enough to patronize them, and employees come to work.  If the artificial government restraints are lifted, businesses will take whatever measures their customers expect, or there won’t be customers.  Medical facilities will figure out what extra measures are needed to begin routine care again.  Restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues can decide if there is a feasible manner to operate that is responsible to customers, yet beneficial to their business. Even school districts can decide through their elected boards on how to proceed, or not, with classes for the next couple years.

Individuals will be mindful of their hygiene and be careful about their contact with at risk people, and at risk people will be more careful about their behaviors.  Government’s role is to provide accurate, meaningful, and common sense guidance about our behaviors, not orders.

For the long term, only “voluntary” changes to our behavior will provide the environment necessary for an orderly and productive society.  Only the people, by their knowledge, ingenuity, choices, and freedom can give us back, “…the pursuit of Happiness.”

Former Sheriff Schmidt Weighs In On Washington County Governance

Sheriff Schmidt has some great points in this guest editorial at the Washington County Insider. Read the whole thing at WCI.

March 26, 2020 – Washington Co., WI – Recently Washington County Board Chairman Kriefall sent letters to the editor in support of the Schoemann Campaign for County Executive.  He utilized the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of why Schoemann should be elected.

My first thought was wondering why Kriefall is writing about the election instead of showing the community some leadership on the COVID-19 issue.  During a state of emergency, the Board Chair alone generally has the authority of the full County Board.  As the highest elected official in County government, shouldn’t he be talking to us?  What has he done in regards to the pandemic?  What is he considering?  How does he view the situation and does he support Governor Evers orders?

Is he concerned about the closing of businesses and restricting of our personal freedoms?  We don’t know, because the only public statement Chairman Kriefall has made recently is that we should vote for his buddy Schoemann.

I for one would like to see the elected County Board Chairman publicly acknowledge that Governor Evers orders are very restricting to Washington County residents and businesses.  Kriefall should communicate to us what he has he done on our behalf to ensure the orders are necessary.  He should explain what will need to change for the orders to be lifted or relaxed.

Something else is very concerning.  On March 13th Chairman Kriefall issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency and the County Board affirmed that proclamation on March 19.

Broad powers and responsibilities were given to Administrator Schoemann and Chairman Kriefall.  Schoemann and Kriefall were given full authority to run County Government and the elected Board is out of the picture.  Schoemann is running a campaign for County Executive and Kriefall is his No. 1 fan.  When the only public comment Chairman Kriefall has made the past two weeks is to support Schoemann’s campaign, I question the basis being used to make decisions about the COVID-19 response.  Is it for our best interests or political interest?

How do we know?  I think we should be very attentive, and there may even be a state law that addresses the potential for conflicts of interest and abuse of power.

I’ll be honest… with everything else going on, I didn’t even know that Washington County had consolidated power in the hands of two people – one of which is running for election and the other who hired him in the first place. Beyond the concerns about abandoning representative government for the time being, the whole things has that swampy smell.

Washington County Sheriff Schmidt Weighs In

Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt wrote an important column for the Washington County Insider. Follow the link to read the whole thing, but the Sheriff brings up a lot of great points, and great concerns, about the movement to consolidate in Washington County.

A few years ago, Administrator Schoeman asked me if I thought those municipalities could be now convinced to combine their dispatch centers with the Sheriffs Center.  My answer was no.  He then suggested that if operation of the Communications Center and Radio System was transferred from the Sheriff to the Administrator (Mr. Schoeman) the municipalities would agree because his wasn’t a “political” position.

In my opinion, the County Administrator has become the most political position in Washington County government.  This opinion is supported by Mr. Schoeman’s current plan to add a second full time Assistant Administrator who will serve as a lobbyist and communicator to other government entities.  Mr. Schoeman and the Executive Committee’s focus is not on delivering necessary services to the public, but influencing (politicize) all areas of government into regionalizing.  Having a county-wide Communications Center and Radio System operated by the Administrator would politicize it.  Mr. Kriefall stated he would incentivize the municipalities with sales tax money.  This is just the beginning of public safety being steered by politics instead of what is in the best interest of the community.

Currently, and for at least the past 30 years, no single government position in Washington County is more involved in all areas of public safety than the Sheriff.  It does not mean the Sheriff controls public safety, but he has a constitutional duty to ensure it is provided.  The Sheriff is accountable to the people directly; not to mayors, administrators or elected boards.

The above example shows why maintaining jurisdictions and elected offices are important to government accountability.  The separation of authority and responsibility is important.  It may cost more to have multiple units of government, but without them you will have no accountability to the people.  Regional governments are only one step away from a single authoritarian state government.

Over the past few years, I have discussed with both candidates for Sheriff the above stated ideas and how they relate to the Sheriff’s authority and responsibility for public safety.  I believe both agree the Sheriff should remain in charge of the county Communication Center and Radio System and that combining with another county would be a mistake.  I also believe that both candidates agree that municipalities would have to join the county Communication Center voluntarily and if they did, that the Sheriff should remain in charge for it to be successful.

Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt Won’t Run for Reelection

Oh no! From the Washington County Insider.

Feb. 27, 2018 – Washington Co., WI – Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt will not run for another term.

Schmidt is 54 years old and has been with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department for 28 years.

Schmidt started part time in 1989 and went to full time in 1991. Schmidt issued the statement below on Tuesday afternoon.


Schmidt said he has no plans just yet on what he will do after retirement.  His current term ends Jan. 4, 2019.

Schmidt has been a very good Sheriff. His steady leadership will be missed.



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