On the day after the deadly accident at O’Donnell Park’s parking garage, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. took the unusual step of carving out a couple of hours to provide counseling to a staffer.
At least that’s the official description of what happened immediately after Clarke’s afternoon press conference on June 25 to discuss the O’Donnell Park investigation.
But the subject of the counseling session says it was something else entirely.
“Nothing discussed in my meeting with Sheriff Clarke had anything to do with my duties as a sergeant,” said Sgt. Rich Graber, the vice president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs’ Association. “It was all about me as a union official. So for (them) to say it was employee counseling is absolutely ridiculous.”
Nor was there much counseling going on.
Graber – whose group often is critical of Clarke – describes it more as an expletive-filled, anti-union rant. During the two-hour session, Graber said, Clarke called him a “terrorist” to the agency, a “cancer” and a whole variety of expletives.
Graber’s written and verbal summaries of the get-together have the second-term sheriff using the F-bomb again and again. He used it as a noun, verb and an adjective, the union official said. Clarke initially was upset that Graber wouldn’t let the sheriff ignore the contract when selecting deputies to work mandatory OT monitoring the site after the accident. But the conversation went far beyond that to host of other complaints, Graber said.
According to his written summary, one exchange went something like this:
“Why do you keep calling me a (expletive)?” Graber asked. “I’m not a (expletive).”
“You’re a (expletive),” Clarke countered, repeating the term.
“Well, you don’t know me well then,” Graber said.
“I don’t want to know you – I want to get rid of you,” Clarke said. “I want to rid this agency of waste like you.”
This isn’t the first – or the second or the third or the fourth – time we’ve heard an account of the leadership style (if you can call it that) employed by David Clarke in his dealings with his subordinates, and it’s time the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department had some grown up leadership. Fortunately, voters in Milwaukee County have an excellent alternative to Sheriff Clarke, in the form of Milwaukee Police Detective Chris Moews.