Over the past two weeks the Milwaukee Common Council has take two different positions in relation to the civilian Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission…the body that hires the Police and Fire Chiefs.

First they wanted to usurp the commisision’s control over the police chief my requesting the state to change the rules and let the common council fire the police chief.

The Milwaukee Common Council would have the power to fire the city’s police chief under a proposal that has the support of a politically diverse group of aldermen.

A draft of the plan said the council is “an appropriate body in which to vest authority to remove from office a chief of police who no longer has the faith and support of the community and its elected officials.”

The change would require state approval.

Not everyone in city hall thinks that’s a good idea:

“I will oppose any attempt to dilute and undermine the statutory authority of the citizen member Fire and Police Commission. The commission is a national model,” (Milwaukee Mayor Tom) Barrett said in a statement. “Politicizing the operations of the fire and police departments is horrible public policy and would run contrary to the principles of citizen oversight and engagement.”

Whoa…that’s a major change in governance and even the editorial staff at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel think it’s a bad bad idea.

But not to worry…in the political climate of 2017…every political body retains the right to change their mind(s) almost immediately. The Fire and Police Commission decided to call out the chief for his pursuit policy…one they and parts of the community feel is insufficient to deter criminals in the City of Milwaukee.

In a blatant (albeit transparent) attack on the chief, they demanded that he change his policy under threat of termination. At deadline Chief Edward Flynn requested an extension to allow the city attorney to review the policy and the commission agreed. Well the common council wasn’t amused!

And when they found out that the chief had hired a lawyer to represent himself…and asked the city attorney to review the policy…and found out the mayor had asked the city attorney to review the policy…the common council threw a hissy fit and started to worry about who had the Fire and Police Commission’s back…the very same commission they were trying to stab in the back a week earlier. They had better make up their minds on how they think the Fire and Police Commission fits into the governing of the City of Milwaukee.

But of course most of you have already discerned the common thread here is their antagonism for Chief Flynn. So the commission be damned…do whatever you can to bring down the police chief.

But this actually has to stop at some point…the selection and retention of public safety officials is properly placed with a civilian commission…politicizing the situation is a really bad idea. And Milwaukee constantly bristles at interference from Madison…but like County Chair Chris Abele before them…who resented a perceived obstruction from the county board ran to Madison and had them neutered…the Milwaukee Common Council now wants to do the same thing. Keep opening that door for petty slights and you won’t be able to complain when Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. Chris Kapenga keep walking through it from their side and stealing your furniture. Just sayin’!

I’ll publish the Common Council letter of July 27th with my comments in the next day or so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *