Whomever said politics makes for strange bedfellows certainly wasn’t kidding.
Case in point is news today that the County Board’s budget panel, which includes at least four progressives, voted to give conservative Sheriff David Clarke a budget much, much closer to the budget he requested than the scaled-down budget the Sheriff would have gotten under County Executive Chris Abele’s proposal.
The Milwaukee County Board’s budget panel Monday rewrote much of County Executive Chris Abele’s overhaul of Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.’s budget, including rejecting Abele’s plan to pay nearly $1 million to have the Milwaukee Police Department take over patrols of the lakefront and other parks.
The board’s finance committee voted 9-0 to dump Abele’s proposals to make deep cuts in the sheriff’s budget but agreed to restore only 15 of 25 deputy positions assigned to the sheriff’s division that includes park patrols.
The panel also voted to reverse Abele’s proposals to shift the sheriff’s 911 emergency call system to a new county department, as well as the county executive’s plan to relocate Clarke’s unit for catching work release inmates in an electronic monitoring program who escape to the district attorney’s office.
No doubt those County Supervisors who voted to give Sheriff Clarke a budget closer to the one he requested think highly of his efforts to fight crime in Milwaukee County, efforts that include the Sheriff’s Department handling one-fifth of one percent of all crimes in Milwaukee County in the two-year period of 2009-2010.
The most recent state Office of Justice Assistance report covers the two-year period of 2009-2010 and shows there were 106,936 violent and property crimes in the county. The Milwaukee Police Department handled 75 percent of those incidents. The sheriffs handled just 57 crimes, or less than one-fifth of one-percent.
David Clarke sure is lucky to have so many progressive allies who seem to share so much of his vision on the County Board, because without those allies he’d be forced to operate with a budget much more in keeping with the amount of law enforcement his department actually does.