January 14, 2009

A tip to Racine police led to Mayor Becker's arrest

Somber press conference: Lt. Jim Dobbs, City Atty. Rob Weber
and City Administrator Ben Hughes

A tip to the Racine Police Department set off a state investigation that led to Mayor Gary Becker's arrest outside of Brookfield Square mall on Tuesday, Lt. Jim Dobbs said at a press conference Wednesday.

Dobbs said the tip came in "several weeks ago" and was known by only the top brass in the department. He declined to say where the tip came from or the nature of the tip, deferring questions about the investigation to the state's Department of Criminal Investigations.

Dobbs' comments came during a press conference led by City Administrator Ben Hughes. City Attorney Rob Weber also spoke.

It was clear from the press conference and comments afterwards that everyone in the city is bracing for Becker's prolonged absence (if not departure).

Under state statute, City Council President David Maack is now acting mayor of the city. He'll fill that role until Becker returns, resigns or the City Council removes him from office.

As acting mayor, Maack will sign official city documents, run City Council meetings and fulfill all of the ceremonial roles that come with being mayor.

Weber said it was too early to discuss the process for removing Becker, but did confirm the council could do so before a criminal conviction. Three-quarters of the council members would have to vote to remove Becker.

"At this point in time, Gary Becker is still the mayor," Weber said. "There is a presumption of innocence."

Hughes said city government would continue to operate without Becker in charge.

"City government will continue to function," he said. "Streets will be plowed, garbage will be picked up. Services will continue to be delivered."

If criminal charges are filed against Becker, he will be represented by his own attorney at his own expense, Weber said. The city will not pay his legal fees.

Weber said he spoke with Becker's family. "The family is shocked," he said.

City officials started hearing about Becker's arrest at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Maack was notified first, and then called members of the City Council.

Hughes received a call from the Racine Police Department with the news around the same time.

Two aldermen attended a press conference on the arrest. Alderman Greg Helding said he met the news with "stunned silence" after getting the call from Maack.

The shock aside, Helding said he was preparing to move forward with city business. While the city needs a mayor in the long term, in the short term it will run smoothly, he said.

Alderman Aron Wisneski said he was stunned by the news. "It doesn't make sense," he said.

But he added this was an opportunity to show city government is about more than the mayor's office.

"Not all of city government is driven by one man's personality," Wisneski said. "It's a democratic, collaborative process."

Press conference attended mostly by media and city employees


  1. Alderman Greg Helding you will not be the next Mayor

  2. I'm not sure why anyone should be shocked by this news, at least not those that know him well.

  3. Helding would be a bit better then Maack...jesus

  4. Art Howell for Mayor!! Clean this joint up!! Start cutting fat from the top down!!

  5. Dr. Arthur D. Shattuck1/14/2009 5:15 PM

    Anonymous messages can be a firewall to the truth. I would like to propose a period of reflection utill the truth comes out. There are no winners here and compassion would serve us all well in this moment of apparent darkness. Trauma and shame are so difficult to understand. Trying to understand is what makes us humane and truly spiritual beings. Please join me in the pursuit of human understanding.

  6. Gary Becker must resign. Even holding out the possibility that he is innocent of these shocking charges, he cannot function as mayor of the city of Racine while dealing with these charges and with their fallout within his family. Unless his trial results in vindication so complete that his accusers are brought up on charges, he will have no moral weight to lead afterward, either.

    Please, Mayor Becker. We do not need our own miniBlagojovich clinging to power at all costs. You need to concentrate on other things, and we need to go on without you.

  7. Dr. Arthur D. Shattuck, what sort of "period of reflection" do you propose for the victims of sexual predators? What about the presumed innocence of children? Stop making excuses for this scumbag. "Innocent until proven guilty" is a LEGAL concept, narrowly defined within the confines of the judicial branch of our government. I'm not a judge, a cop, or a lawyer, and I'm not assigned to this case. I can say, think, or feel whatever I want to.

    Too bad YOU weren't the victim of one of these monsters before you spouted off your apology for a predator. You ask for understanding - - how about understanding what sex crimes do to the victims? How many children has this pervert already destroyed?

    No, I'm not saying that we should string him up form the nearest light pole, but if you truly are any sort of "doctor," then you understand the community's need for catharsis to deal with this trauma. Hiding more of Racine's shame only adds to the problem.

    Famous slogan from recovery groups: "You're only as sick as your secrets." I suggest that Racine is plenty sick, and this provides us with a starting point to recovery. Instead of recoiling from this, we should be investigating for more. It's our opportunity to finally drain the infection that cripples our city government.