Yesterday, in Milwaukee Common Council Needs to Make Up Its Mind, I promised to reprint their joint letter on the tempest in a tea cup around Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn and the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission…plus the mayor and city attorney. Well here it is with my comments (sorry that it is three parts but I haven’t quite got pdf’s to work here yet):
This may not be all that interesting to most of you but the details and Mobius strip logic is unusual even for contemporary politics. This all stems from a disagreement between the common council, the fire and police commission, some members of the public, and the police chief on the proper policies surrounding high speed police pursuit of suspects. You can catch up on the topic HERE.
For some reason the common council is concerned that the police chief lawyered up when given a public directive that included the threat of termination. Any smart employee gets legal advice in a situation like this. And some of the council members are attorneys themselves and would probably suggest the exact same action to one of their clients. Now obviously the chief isn’t in agreement with the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission and wants to know his legal rights and responsibilities to them, the city, the police force and to himself in the situation. Prudent.
Then they are concerned that Mayor Tom Barrett contacted City Attorney Grant Langley about the issue. What do they expect the mayor to do. He’s responsible for the City of Milwaukee and it’s reasonable for him to ask about the responsibility of the city and any potential liabilities to the city from any actions taken by the chief or the commission. That’s good governance.
Then they kinda jump the shark and say the chief is trying to undo the directive of the commission. Well we already know that they disagree on the subject but at this point all he’s done is request more time to formulate a new pursuit policy and have, again, the city attorney review the situation.
And next the concern about who represents the Fire and Police Commission in this conflict. Well, first, there isn’t a ‘conflict’, it’s a difference of opinion on police procedures. Other than the overwrought statement about possible termination if the chief didn’t apply to their directive, everything is playing out the way it should. The common council is the group that is creating a ‘conflict’. At this point the FPC doesn’t need representation. They are the employer in this case…the chief the employee.
Now if there really is a concern about who represents the civilian commission, why hasn’t the common council delineated that years ago…why wait until they have created a contrived ‘conflict’. And I find just a little irony in the fact that two weeks ago they wanted to usurp the authority of the FPC and today they’ve ‘got its back’.
Since they actually brought it up and this should be a rhetorical question since they are in fact the common council and should know this stuff…who is the client of the city attorney? The City of Milwaukee…the citizens of Milwaukee…the residents of Milwaukee…pure and simple.
Now as far as I can see the PFC doesn’t need to be defended. Every thing has been moving procedurally. No one has threatened the PFC (except the common council as noted above) and no one is thinking the PFC, at this point at least, is at any risk. Or is the common council once again indirectly threatening the chief?