Wis. Official Backs Away From Claims Of Multi-Million Dollar Capitol Damage

In an amusing footnote to the Wisconsin protests, a Walker administration official is now backing away from another official’s dire warning that millions and millions of dollars in damage had been done to the Capitol over weeks of protests. Furthermore, it appears that no professional estimate has actually been done.

On Thursday, as part of the litigation over the state’s attempts to restrict public access to the Capitol, the Department of Administration’s legal counsel claimed that repairing the damage done to the building — mainly from adhesive tape used to affix posters to the marble walls — would add up to $7.5 million. However, it was not clear how these estimates were made.

On Thursday night, Dane County Judge John Albert ruled that the daytime restrictions on Capitol access must be lifted, while also ordering protesters to leave when the building closes at night. And now, the state’s facilities administrator — a former moderate Dem state senator who joined the Walker administration — is backing away from those high cost estimates.The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

“I think that’s more of a worst-case scenario,” said Jeff Plale, the former Democratic state senator who is now the state facilities administrator. “There are other estimates.”

Touring the Capitol Friday morning with state architect Dan Stephans, Plale said he had not immediately observed any damage from demonstrations over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill, though the pair was just starting their tour. Plale said that he didn’t believe the state had had any experienced contractor provide the quote on the damages.

Plale, a relatively conservative Democrat, was defeated in his Democratic primary last fall by Chris Larson, who is now one of the 14 Democrats who have fled the state in order to block budget quorum on Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union proposals. Plale was then appointed to the Walker administration in January, which some observers speculated came as a result of his having broken party ranks on whether to approve state contracts with the unions.

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