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Kenosha’s Activist Library Director Posts Then Removes “No Guns Allowed” Signs At All Libraries In The Wake Of County Board Pro-Gun Measures

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Kenosha Activist Library Director Barbara Brattin (D)
and “No Guns” Sign She Had Posted At All Libraries

The Kenosha Library director, Barbara Brattin earns $123,000 per year and lives in Racine, but she is very interested in Kenosha County politics. So interested, in fact, that she tried to interfere with the Spring, 2022 elections by inserting her own, far-left views. As a proud democrat, she championed book clubs that had to do with social justice warriors and other left of center issues, but refused to allow a book club for a conservative group that supported Trump. Brattin was fired from a Colorado library in 2013 for mismanagement. She wants to leave Kenosha and has been applying for jobs elsewhere.

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Recently, the Kenosha County Board passed two measures that strongly supported the second amendment. In 2011, when concealed was passed by both Wisconsin houses and signed into law by Governor Scott Walker (D), the City of Kenosha decided against banning guns in public buildings. There are still some places citizens cannot carry under statute and Federal Law, like police departments, schools and courthouses. One place that concealed carry license holders could carry in Kenosha are the Libraries. In 2011, democrats on the County Board ignored the liability issue and posted “No Guns Allowed” signs on all county buildings. Most of these signs are coming down in the coming weeks thanks to the “Red Wave” that scooped up most of the County Board seats.

The Entrance To Kenosha Southwest Library on 7/5/2022
(Cell Photo Taken by Kevin Mathewson – Kenosha County Eye)

Brattin voiced her strong opposition to this decision. In protest, she decided to unilaterally order “No Guns Allowed” signs to be placed at all Libraries. She told KCE that she wasn’t granted this authority from the City of Kenosha nor the Library Board of Trustees. Below the image of a gun with a line through it, the text on the signs read:

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“Although firearms are banned from this municipal building, the municipality cannot ensure the protection of visitors or its employees from individuals who unlawfully enter with firearms, nor does it offer protection against the action of violators.”

This is a common attempt to subvert the plain language of Wis. Stat. § 175.60(21)(b)-(d) that clearly states:
“A person that does not prohibit an individual from carrying a concealed weapon on property that the person owns or occupies is immune from any liability arising from its decision.”

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When KCE confronted Brattin about the signs, she told us that Kenosha Ordinance allows her to act alone in posting the signs. She then cited Kenosha Ordinance  11.065. This Kenosha ordinance mimics Wis. Stat. §941.235.

11.065. – Carrying Firearm in Public Building.
A. Prohibition. It shall be unlawful for any person to go armed with a firearm in any building owned or leased by the State or any political subdivision of the State.
B. Exception. Paragraph A shall not apply to any of the following:
1. Peace officers or armed forces or military personnel who go armed in the line of duty or to any person duly authorized by the chief of police of any city, village or town, the chief of the capitol police, or the sheriff of any county to possess a firearm in any building under Paragraph A. For purposes of this section peace officer does not include a commission warden who is not a state-certified commission warden.
2. A qualified out-of-state law enforcement officer, as defined in Wis. Stats. § 941.23(1)(g), to whom Wis. Stats. §§ 941.23(2)(b)1. to 3., applies.
3. A former officer, as defined in Wis. Stats. § 941.23(1)(c), to whom Wis. Stats. §§ 941.23 (2) (c) 1. to 7., applies.
4. A licensee, as defined in Wis. Stats. § 175.60(1)(d), or an out-of-state licensee, as defined in Wis. Stats. § 175.60(1)(g).

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There is a fatal flaw in Brattin’s legal interpretation of the law. She failed to read the fourth exception that points to “concealed carry license holders” and “out-of-state concealed carry license holders.” We educated her on this. She admitted she messed up, saying in part:

“The library is always open to constructive feedback about how we can serve our community better. Mr. Mathewson’s challenge this week is a good example.”

This means her signs were illegal. KCE immediately notified the City, by means of the City Council, Mayor and Aldermen of an imminent lawsuit seeking to ask a judge to order Brattin to remove the signs.

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8th District Alderman Dave Mau

Kenosha Alderman David Mau of the 8th District then interjected, saying in part:

“In the short amount of time since the spring elections, this is the 2nd time you’ve (Brattin) used taxpayer funds for illegal and partisan political purposes. My constituents would find me remiss if I waited for a 3rd time to speak up.

In a time when our city is attempting to raise taxes and our families are hurting from inflation, you seem very willing to spend their money for your own agenda.
Regardless what any individual feels about firearms, I don’t believe the wording of the Statute, nor the concern of liability for the City is disputed. Kenosha Council passed a law on this in 2011 as well.

Will you be taking the signs down? Will you be refunding the taxpayers, including what was spent on the cancelled partisan election interview?”

Submitted Photo

As of yesterday, all “No Guns Signs Allowed” have been removed from the libraries. They have been replaced with extremely confusing signs with the full text of the ordinance, sloppily including the headline of the next ordinance.

Opinion:

Brattin should stay in her lane. If she couldn’t understand the ordinance, how does she expect citizens to? In our opinion, these signs should come down too. We don’t have to sue the library, and while we were happy to, we have bigger fish to fry. In the meantime Brattin should stick to library, not politics. We have a great public library system. She should stop polluting it with her partisan politics.

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31 Responses

  1. Is it politics or did she make a mistake? (Or maybe a series of mistakes for not checking with the city attorney first???)

    Ald. Mau may be blowing smoke a bit about taxpayer costs. $5 and Scotch tape at the most? Kevin, you’re right: bigger fish to fry.

    1. No smoke being blown. I will have the cost soon. These were not eight and half by 11 sheets of paper with scotch tape. They were custom printed decals for all of the library doors in Kenosha County. She did not make a mistake, she got caught dabbling in politics again. Let’s not be naive

        1. Maybe not. By state law the library board, not the city council, is in charge and the librarian is the administrator of the library. Whether she overstepped her bounds is for the library board to decide. Mr. Mau needs to read the law before opening his yap.

          1. Mr. Matthewson’s interpretation is incorrect.
            Wisconsin Statutes Section 43.58(1): “The library board . . . shall have exclusive charge, control and custody of all lands, buildings, money or other property devised, bequeathed, given or granted to, or otherwise acquired or leased by, the municipality for library purposes.” It’s the library board’s call, not the city council or county board. The word “exclusive” in the law is pretty damn clear, even if the city owns the property. The library board “shall have EXCLUSIVE charge, control and custody, etc.”

          2. This same “anonymous” guy is posting over and over and talking to himself, You can tell in his writing. anyways she took the sign down so obviously there was something wrong with it. your argument is weak. Librarry still has to obey other laws, they are not an autonomous zone.

      1. Wisconsin Statutes Section 43.58(1): “The library board . . . shall have exclusive charge, control and custody of all lands, buildings, money or other property devised, bequeathed, given or granted to, or otherwise acquired or leased by, the municipality for library purposes.” It’s the library board’s call, not the city council or county board. As for the librarian: “the library board shall supervise the administration of the public library and shall appoint a librarian, who shall appoint such other assistants and employees as the library board deems necessary, and prescribe their duties and compensation.”

          1. Just curious, so this state statute overrides all other laws? The librarian board could mandate people to be nude to check out books? Or perhaps prohibit ethnic groups or sexual preferences? Is …”shall have exclusive charge, control and custody of all lands, buildings, money or other property devised, bequeathed, given or granted to, or otherwise acquired or leased by, the municipality for library purposes.” considered sovereign land then?

  2. This is something the library board should have weighed in on. She screwed up. Give her points for admitting her error. She may have a point, though. A lot of kids (and some street people of varying degrees of mental health) are in libraries. All it would take is for somebody to forget their gun in the shitter or leave it in an unattended purse for it to fall into the wrong hands. I’ve seen other cops do this.

  3. Brattin is a mixed bag. She won “librarian of the year” awards and the Colorado library grew to a top-rated library after she took over. She addressed declining revenues by closing the library on Sundays which pissed off a lot of people and she was out the door. Interestingly, earlier this year she was a finalist for the library director’s job in Missoula, Montana.

  4. Wait. Supposedly she’s upset with a county board vote over policies impacting county buildings. Last time I checked the Kenosha Public Library is not and has never been under county board jurisdiction. Did she know this?

  5. This is the Kenosha Lib BS that runs this city..Voting no on new taxes.. Have these overpaid city employees like her take a pay cut .

  6. First and foremost she should be fired or suspended. Her actions speaks to the total disregard for City policy. You are able and have for sometime been able to carry a concealed weapon in Kenosha City buildings . This is not a new policy on the part of the city .
    Liberal minded administrators or department heads should enforce their own set of morals on the public . The Mayor and or City Council President should make sure this is dealt with in short order .

  7. The library has many of its policies posted online except its internal ones that define the parameters of the library director. They need full transparency.

  8. Thanks Kevin for your indepth reporting on this issue with Library Director Bratton.
    FYI: The Epoch Times ran an article today, 8-2, titled “American Library Association Promotes ‘Secret’ LGBT Messaging”. The lead off paragraph says “Librarians should “sneak” pro-LGBT messages into conservative communities, according to a post on the American Library Association’s (ALA) website.” Seems to be aimed at our children.
    So I think a close eye must be kept, not only on Bratton, but all public librarian’s for a hidden agenda in the future also.

  9. Much worse that Mr. Matthewson not knowing the powers and duties of the library board is that the library director seems to not know. If the library board delegated such authority to her then she should have stood her ground and told Kevin to go fly a kite. If not, then she should have brought it to the board for a vote.

    1. The City’s attorney, Ed Antaramian disagrees with you. I’m not a lawyer but he is. His opinions are more geared towards politics and not a sound interpretation of the law, so he is often wrong.

      1. I was on a library board elsewhere eons ago. There was training by the state legal counsel. One of the points was that municipalities often mistakenly thought they controlled the library which was frequently a source of local friction. The legal briefs may be on the DPI website.

        There are two types of librarians. One has the attitude that these are our books and we’re doing you a favor by letting you touch them. The other is how can we help you use your library.

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