First it was $7.5 million. Then $347,000. Then, on May 13, the state Department of Administration's estimate for the cost of damage to the state Capitol caused by recent protests was downsized again, to $270,000, including just $161,000 for interior repair. Now even this figure is being criticized as too high.
Jacob Arndt of Northwestern Masonry & Stone, a Lake Mills-based company that's done work for the state, says his review of a report by historical architect Charles Quagliana leads him to conclude that at least some of the damage appears to be normal wear and tear, not recent, or otherwise unrelated to the protests. He calls the report "clearly a political effort to discredit the opposition and then a consequent effort to save face by inventing damage that is not there."
Quagliana takes umbrage at such talk, saying he made every effort to be fair and straightforward in identifying recent damage. "He could be right," he says of Arndt's claim that some of the damage may predate the protests. "It could be from December. It could be from March. I don't think anybody can say with certainty. All we can say is that it's recent."
An even harsher critique of the DOA's new estimate was made via press release by state Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison), who said the episode "highlights the incompetence and deceitfulness that are hallmarks of the Walker Regime," adding that the credibility of Walker and DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch is "in far worse condition than any section of the Capitol building, and in fact may be beyond repair."