The Racine Post is reporting this morning that Mayor Gary Becker was arrested late last night on child pornography charges and is being held in the Kenosha County Jail.

A Journal Times story has some additional details:

Racine Mayor Gary Becker was arrested Tuesday in a shopping mall outside the City of Milwaukee, said Ben Hughes, city administrator.

Becker was arrested on multiple felony counts, including solicitation of a minor, Hughes said.

WRJN News-Talk 1400 AM is discussing the story live now and has sent reporter Janet Hoff to the news conference scheduled for 10:00. They will broadcast the entire news conference live.

WRJN apparently does not offer live audio streaming, and the “AudioOnDemand” links on their website produce errors in my browser, but I am listening over the air.

Update: 10:07 a.m.:

WRJN has live microphone testing from the City Council chambers. They report that Fox 6 Milwaukee has a truck headed here in the near white-out conditions of blowing and drifting snow.

Update: 10:14 a.m.:

WRJN is airing live audio from the City Council chambers where the press conference will be held. Janet Hoff has ben heard testing microphones, and the voice of a baby is also audible. Apparently, weather conditions are delaying the start of the press conference, and the WRJN crew has forgotten to bring headphones along, so they cannot hear the station. WRJN will post the full audio of the press conference on their site once it has concluded.

Update: 10:18 a.m.:

Fox 6 Milwaukee is airing the news conference live. City Administrator Ben Hughes begins by assuring everyone that the city will continue to function.

Update: 10:22 a.m.:

Hughes says that alderman and City Council president David Maack will serve as acting mayor during Becker’s absence.

Update: 10:24 a.m.:

Fox 6 cuts away from the presser just as the questioning begins. Details are still sketchy, and apparently DCI (the Division of Criminal Investigation) was not able to make it to this press conference, and they would be the officials who could answer most of the media’s questions, so very little will be forthcoming from this event. Hughes refers all questions to DCI, and simply describes the mood among city employees as “shocked” and “somber.”

Update: 10:34 a.m.:

The gloomy press conference fizzles to a halt after a few additional mumbled questions and some more of the baby’s crying. Outside, the snow is coming down like crazy in the nine degree air.

Dustin Block has a Racine Post entry speculating on a To Catch a Predator-style sting.

Follow the links above for more as this story develops. There’s also a Kenosha-Racine Room at FriendFeed that you may want to join.

Update: 11:46 a.m.:

The Journal Times has posted the mayor’s booking photo and linked to his booking information at the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department site.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has now also posted a story speculating on an Internet sex sting. They say DCI agent Eric J. Szatkowski specializes in such operations.

Update: 12:25 p.m.:

The gang at JT Irregulars has already attracted a lengthy comment thread on today’s news — and the Racine Post highlights the one tidbit of detail to emerge from the press conference: The mayor’s arrest resulted from a tip to the Racine Police Department.

Update: 3:08 p.m.:

The Journal Times has now updated their story with a few more details, including the fact that Becker was arrested at Brookfield Square Mall, and some more details of the charges he’s facing.

Update: 3:35 p.m.:

The Racine Post has a similar update regarding the charges.

Update: 1/15/2009, 1:45 p.m.:

The Journal Times has just posted extensive details of the events leading to the mayor’s arrest.

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