Bruce Murphy

Barrett Recall Announced

Curious cast of characters behind effort, which will require 52,000 signatures.

By - Jul 7th, 2017 01:46 pm
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Mayor Tom Barrett speaking at the groundbreaking for the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayor Tom Barrett speaking at the groundbreaking for the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A  group that calls itself “Save Our City, Milwaukeeans Can’t Wait” has delivered to City Hall a notice that it intends to launch a recall effort against Mayor Tom Barrett.

The group is headed by recall petitioner Allen Jansen, who lives in the Jackson Park neighborhood, on the city’s South Side. Jansen previously donated $50 each to the mayoral campaigns of both Joe Davis and Bob Donovan, according to Urban Milwaukee’s Political Contributions Tracker. He did not reply to calls for comment.

The treasurer for the group is Darryl Farmer, who also goes by the name King Rick, and is a member of the Black Panthers Party. He was involved in a controversial incident involving threats against the North Side store, Stark Foods; Farmer was accused of harassment and extortion, as Fox 6 reported, while Farmer said he was just trying to look out for the neighborhood.

The group would need to collect approximately 52,000 petition signatures to trigger a recall election against Barrett, who won a fourth term as Mayor last year.

The group listed several reasons to recall Barrett, most notably that he “has directed that tens of millions of City of Milwaukee tax dollars be used for the construction of a downtown trolley at the expense of” other city needs, that he “has not fulfilled his obligation to sufficiently protect the residents of the City of Milwaukee from crime” and that he has not acted to protect residents “from the serious health effects of lead poisoning caused by lead lateral pipes impacting at least 70,000 homes throughout Milwaukee.”

The issues together are reminiscent of those that have been pushed by Republican PR operative Craig Peterson, who backed an unsuccessful referendum effort against the streetcar, backed Davis and Donovan against Barrett, and has worked with Farmer and others on the lead lateral issue. Peterson, however, says he is not involved with the effort. “But I do know the players involved in the recall, and if I were the mayor I’d be concerned,” he said.

Barrett told Urban Milwaukee he was not surprised by the recall. “I had been hearing rumors about this for two or three weeks, that some people who were unhappy with the results of the last election were waiting the required one year before launching a recall effort. So I’m not surprised.”

“Nobody loves a recall,” Barrett added, “but at the same time I welcome the opportunity to talk about the progress we’ve made in Milwaukee.”

The effort was first reported by conservative talk radio host Dan O’Donnell.

The recall is also supported by KINGFISHmke.COM, whose leader Chris Johnson has been a fierce critic of the Barrett administration for not doing more to address the issue of lead laterals, as has its contributing columnist, Robert Miranda, though he says he has no personal position on the recall. Their concern about lead laterals have been echoed by others, who’ve criticized the city for not being proactive enough on the issue.

Barrett said the lead lateral issue “is a strong personal issue for me that we have taken the lead on since day one, since we first discovered the problem.  Funding has been an issue and continues to be an issue, but we’ve taken this issue very seriously.”

Correction: an earlier version of this story wrongly called Robert Miranda a co-leader of KINGFISHmke.COM. He is a contributing columnist.

Categories: Politics

54 thoughts on “Barrett Recall Announced”

  1. Joe says:

    Yawn. What have the recall proponents’ preferred aldermen done on these issues?

  2. Beer Baron says:

    Boring. Why won’t that slum lord in Franklin just mind his own business and leave us alone? I’m sorry that Barrett has made it so Milwaukee is so economically powerful it has to support all those suburban welfare queens who have their McMansions and massive roads that they refuse to pay their fair share for. Stop using misguided Milwaukee people to keep up your loony war against us.

  3. Markm says:

    If they want to recall somebody because he “has not fulfilled his obligation to sufficiently protect the residents of the City of Milwaukee from crime” – try recalling the sherif. You know – the one who said he was going to resign.

  4. WashCoRepub says:

    Obviously, King Rick hasn’t ridden the streetcar yet. How can you judge Mayor Barrett’s legacy before he’s completed his signature achievement?

  5. The players gathering round this effort are indeed curious, as is the attempt to attack Barrett on being too Trumpian on immigration despite the stances the city has taken and the likelihood is that the conservative city attorney just wants to make sure all the legal Ts are crossed to prevent any Sessions mischief. But any change does and maybe should upset the immigrant community but not sure this is the fight to have especially given the dubious makeup of the sudden anti Barrett forces.

  6. Tom D says:

    After the 2012 gubernatorial recall election, the Legislature approved a Constitutional amendment restricting recalls to cases where the office-holder has been convicted of a felony or is accused of an ethics violation. (Neither of those situations seems to apply here.)

    What happened to that proposed amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution??

  7. Scott Muir says:

    Regardless of who is behind this effort, Barrett certainly has some very real vulnerabilities.
    He is hyper-focused on improving the downtown area, and has virtually ignored the rest of the city’s problems. While we’re told there is no money for police & fire departments or road repairs, our tax dollars are financing the new Bucks arena, the downtown trolley, etc.
    If I am approached, I will eagerly sign the petition.

  8. Robert Miranda says:

    Bruce Murphy
    You have been told on several occasions I have no stake/ownership in KINGFISHmke.com, yet you continue to mislead and misinform the public that I am. Once again get your facts straight. I have no stake or ownership in KINGFISHmke.com. A fact you have been told several times now. My contribution of an article here and there to this blog does not mean I have stake in this blog. Whatever decision this blog makes regarding its interest on any matter is done without my participation. You’re intentionally misinforming your readers about my role with this blog. My role is Just like it would be if you published a column I wrote, which I’m sure you wouldn’t, in Urban Milwaukee. I demand a correction immediately.

  9. Gary Witt says:

    Neither political party should endorse slowing down the positive progress of our city just so that we can engorge the attention starved bellies of these tired, old, flabby, dark money funded, political hacks.

  10. “The recall is also supported by KINGFISHmke.com, whose leaders Robert Miranda and Chris Johnson have been fierce critics of the Barrett administration”. Barrett Recall Announced Article

    Bruce you have asked me on several occasions about KINGFISHmke’s ownership and leadership as well as if there are any financial ties between KINGFISHmke and the Republican party/affiliates along with Robert Miranda’s involvement with KINGFISHmke.

    I have told you repeatedly that I am the sole proprietor of KINGFISHmke. I receive no money from advertisers, donations, contributors, grants, forgivable loans, stipends, in-kind donation, etc.

    I also told you that only one person makes decisions for KINGFISHmke, that being managerially, financially or editorially. That one person is me!

    Once again, I have no ties whatsoever to any Republican party, affiliates or otherwise. As I have told you on many occasions.

    I have always answered you honestly, articulately and consistently. Yet, you print falsehoods about my company like the statement above in bold.

    How many times do I have to tell you that Robert Miranda is a contributing columnist to KINGFISHmke and that is it? What is so hard for you to understand?

    Why would you list Robert as a “leader” of my company? He has no ownership, managerial, editorial, financial or advisory responsibilities at KINGFISHmke, so why would you state that lie? Especially after I have told you repeatedly what Robert’s role at KINGFISHmke is.

    Are you so hell bent on creating a false narrative about KINGFISHmke that you are willing to throw your journalistic integrity out of the window?

    This is not a rhetorical question, with this level of false reporting, do you still consider yourself a real journalist anymore?

    I was told by a couple of your former colleagues at the Journal Sentinel that you were known for reporting false narratives and that it resulted in lawsuits against the company and damage to the reputation of the paper.

    Regardless, it is no excuse for making false statements about my company or me.

    Now that I think about, that last question was rhetorical.

  11. Vincent Hanna says:

    So the goal is to replace Barrett with someone who immediately replaces every single lead lateral?

  12. Katie says:

    I hope to see the so called mayor gone soon-police un-chief too. This city is horrible. My home is my jail,no walks,all the neighbors babysit each others houses when we leave our jails. The trolley is a horrible idea. All the suburbs are suffering because our lawless criminals think they can perform all over as they do in Milwaukee. Open up them jails after Tom and Flynn leave and let the sun once again shine in or city. We can once again say “Milwaukee-talk it up!!!

  13. Bruce Murphy says:

    As noted by both Miranda and Johnson, the latter is sole owner of KINGFISHMke. My point was not about its ownership, but merely to note the two people involved in the stories they publish are critics of the Barrett administration.

  14. Bruce Murphy says:

    And no, Chris, in the nearly three years I worked for the Journal Sentinel, there were no lawsuits involving stories I wrote, Nor for any other publication I worked for in my 37 years in journalism, including at Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, Shepherd Express, Metro Milwaukee Weekly or Urban Milwaukee.

  15. Robert Miranda says:

    Bruce Murphy, you’ve been told I’m a contributing writer for the blog on several occasions and that’s the limit of my role. What I fail to grasp is why did you even mention me in the same breath as KINGFISHmke support of the recall. That’s like saying anyone who contributes articles to Urban Milwaukee are part of Urban Milwaukee decisions to support whatever Urban Milwaukee wants to support. So is everyone who contribute articles to Urban Milwaukee automatically mean they are leaders of Urban Milwaukee or are part of decisions made by Urban Milwaukee?

  16. Bruce Murphy says:

    Robert, simply trying to give clarity to readers on the cast of characters. I could be wrong but my sense was that you’ve done more of the stories for Kingfish than anyone else. You’ll note I also linked readers to your efforts on the lead lateral issue.

  17. Andrew says:

    Katie- what neighborhood do you live in? I have no such concerns when I lived in any of the 4 neighborhoods in Milwaukee I have moved between.

  18. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Follow the money on this one.

    Likely the same kind of alliance between the Bradley Foundation oligarchs + easily-suckered local single-issue types that created Verona Swanigan as a DA candidate. And likely as doomed and pointless.

  19. Mary Kay Wagner says:

    Katie, I lived in St. Paul for nearly 25 years. The crime rate there is significantly lower than Milwaukee for a number of reasons not the least is the poverty rate is half what it is here. But in St. Paul we also looked out for our neighbors. It was one of the many things that helped keep our neighborhoods safe. So if you live in a prison; I suggest it is a prison of your own making. It is a prison of fear and distrust caused by your own failure to be a good neighbor to all your Milwaukee neighbors not just the ones that look like you.

  20. Vincent Hanna says:

    More than 50,000 signatures in 60 days seems completely impossible, especially since there’s no crime involved here. These people could stop the pointless charade and instead work to bring more attention to the issues they claim to care about so deeply. A silly recall isn’t the only way to draw attention to their cause.

  21. davidday says:

    Okay let’s go through the petition’s grievances one by one.

    The Streetcar: Get over it. Not everybody feels the same way as you do about this.

    Crime: What do you propose Mayor Barrett does to combat this? This issue is far larger than the Mayor. There was a proposal a while back to increase property taxes to add 100 new police officers to MPD but it got very little support from city officials and even less support from the residents of the neighborhoods the petition backers are from. The Mayor was never in control of the success or failure of that proposal. If you really want to do something about crime then put your energy into backing a specific crime control effort, don’t just sit around and complain that the Mayor hasn’t divined a magic fix to a country wide issue.

    Lead Pipes: The city is working on this and it would need a lot more money than has been dedicated by the city to the streetcar or the Buck’s arena to fix it. It sure would be helpful if the State Government would allow Milwaukee to raise revenues, then maybe we could start fixing our infrastructure issues. If you want movement on this you should be trying to recall Walker (again), not Barrett.

  22. Robert Miranda says:

    Bruce Murphy,
    Your update on the cast of characters behind this recall to your readers cast me in the position that I support this recall. I emailed you that as Spokesperson of FLAC we have no position on this recall. You then cast me as a leader of KINGFISHmke who does support the recall but whom I have no leadship role with. Now if you asked me personally my position I would tell you I personally have no position on this recall. You’re being misleading in your article and explanation on this thread. You must correct your misleading article.

  23. Bruce Murphy says:

    Robert, that’s an important distinction. I made the correction.

  24. ” I could be wrong but my sense was that you’ve (Robert Miranda) done more of the stories for Kingfish than anyone else.

    Bruce Murphy,:
    The above statement in your comment is wrong.

    The person that has submitted the most articles for KINGFISHmke is me, over half in fact. Robert and I have co-authored many articles, but the vast majority were done by me.

    We have had a variety of contributing columnists including, but not limited to, former county judges, radio talk show hosts, community activists, scholars, scientists, etc..

  25. Dragonkat Motors says:

    @ Chris Johnson & Robert Miranda

    The Streetcar: Get over it. Not everybody feels the same way as you do about this.

    Crime: What do you propose Mayor Barrett does to combat this?

    Lead Pipes: The city is working on this and it would need a lot more money than has been dedicated by the city to the streetcar or the Buck’s arena to fix it. It sure would be helpful if the State Government would allow Milwaukee to raise revenues

    Jobs: Would be great if state goverment allowed Milwaukee to rise the min wage

    plus just who do you plan to run vs Mayor Barrett?

    it looks like you guys really didn’t give this much thought

  26. Thomas says:

    Barrett is not a great mayor. He does not inspire great #s of citizens. Barrett is a good mayor. He is attentive to necessary services, and he promotes projects that serve the interests of the majority of citizens. The recall has no foundation. Funds for the streetcar were secured many years ago. Our city’s share in these costs will be modest. Future benefits from a multi-faceted transportation system could be substantial.

    Reactionaries hate public transportation projects because they seem to believe that everyone in the U.S.A. was born with a car to parents with a space for same in a 2 car garage. The fact is that there are too many cars in our cities, too few garages, and too few people using public transportation.

  27. Ron Legro says:

    Arguably this recall is a strange-bedfellows component of a wider campaign laid out by Republicans to capture control of the poltically blue city, the way they captured county government for a decade by installing Scott Walker as executive. This morning’s Journal Sentinel includes an inadvertently illuminating op ed column by State Rep. Rob Hutton, a businessman and Republican from Brookfield, who takes an increasingly typical, passive-aggressive approach.

    First, Hutton celebrates downtown Milwaukee development which “we” have made happen, but quickly blames city “leadership at the top” for persistent neighborhood crime. His prescription is not entirely cogent or clear, other than replacing that leadership, but seems to rely upon increasing police presence and cracking down some more, instead of job-creating, socioeconomic solutions.

    But the city already spends more on police operations than it receives in property tax revenue. Hutton and his cohorts “nearly 100 miles away” in the statehouse accept no blame for slashing state shared revenues to Milwaukee, a net funder of state operations. Apparently they expect the city’s “leadership at the top” to reduce crime using magic pixie dust.

  28. Robert Miranda says:

    @ dragonkat motors
    I’m not organizing a recall nor do I have a position regarding it. As hard as Murphy tried to tie me into this recall, I’m not involved in it. I will say that in the last ten years our community never addressed lead in water like we are right now and that is only because community people came together and said enough is enough. More needs to be done. There is NO plan. There is NO comprehensive strategic plan for removing lead pipes releasing toxic poison in our water. The ordinance passed is a farce.

  29. Ron Legro says:

    P.S. I don’t recall anyone politically personalizing the cryptosporidium crisis in 1993, which led to 100 deaths and 400,000 sick Milwaukeeans, nor did anyone decide to try to recall Mayor Norquist. Likewise re Mayor Maier, under whom the regional sewerage overflow problem reached critical mass, leading to a successful lawsuit in the 1970s and building of the deep tunnel system.

    Correcting these two environmental challenges cost a hundred million dollars in the crypto case and billions in the sewage overflow case. Milwaukee better treatment of drinking water than the national norm and a cleaner lake because of those actions.

    While lead pipes obviously have to go, there’s no way they can be made to disappear suddenly, and even some recall proponents now acknowledge that.

    Even in cities like Madison that largely got that done (although on a much smaller scale), the task took a decade and those cities — unlike Milwaukee — didn’t worry about inadvertent and sudden lead pollution side effects when mains and lateral service lines were changed out independently. That’s because the science and engineering understanding has evolved rapidly, even though the latent dangers of lead pollution have been known a long while.

    Nor do Barrett and his administration get any credit for mounting an aggressive remediation of the lead paint problem, which arguably is a greater short-term threat.

    Other than that, it’s what Republicans deride as Barrett’s “choo-choo train” that bugs activists who pretend that dedicated federal transportation funds could ever be redirected to other community needs — “other” because better mass transit *is* a neighborhood need.

  30. Andrew Jadczak says:

    Robert Miranda- I thought there is a plan and it has already begun with replacing lead laterals?

  31. Robert Miranda says:

    @AndrewJadczak
    There is no plan. The ordinance the mayor calls a plan is a Hal measure that addresses removing lead laterals when there is a leak or some emegancy break in the water line or when there is a water main project regarding replacement schulded in an area of the city. City will contact to make arrangements to pay up to $1600.00 for lead line removal when any of this occurs. This ordinance is budgeted to remove about 300 lead pipes per year. In addition, the state DNR money city received is being used to remove lead laterals from over 300 state certified daycare centers. Mayor is playing games. This ordinance is not a broad comprehensive removal or funding plan to remove these lead pipes. 300 lead pipes removed per year will take over 200 years to remove all 80,000 plus lines.

  32. Always Outspoken says:

    Lots of folks here are asking “What can Barrett do?” with regards to the city’s problems.
    1. Put some pressure on the DA’s office and local judges to stop the “catch and release” system currently used on criminals.
    2. Work as hard to find “creative” ways to finance and support the police department, road repairs, and other ESSENTIAL CITY SERVICES as you have for your PET PROJECTS like the trolley.
    How’s that for a start? The real answer is “He can be a leader who inspires and influences changes for the better” – but it appears that that is too much to ask of him. All he can manage are weak attempts at expressing outrage and empty promises of improvement. Everybody knows that with Barrett at the helm the status quo won’t really be disturbed, because it’s going to take more than holding news conferences and releasing statements to get anything done.
    That’s why this recall is (finally) being proposed.

  33. Steve says:

    Always outspoken I could not agree with you more.The reason why crime is so out of control is the broken criminal justice system.Catch them and then slap them on the wrist and send them back out on the street to do the same thing again.This current leadership at city hall seems to have more sympathy for those who commit crimes over the victim.

  34. Vincent Hanna says:

    Ah yes the ol’ Barrett and Others care more about criminals than victims crap. Love that right-wing talking point. All you hard asses feel pretty tough throwing that one around. Crime is a complex issue, much more complex than some of you realize or are willing to acknowledge. It isn’t just about one thing.

  35. Vincent Hanna says:

    Not to mention we live in a city that incarcerates a ton of people in a nation that incarcerates a ton of people. Locking people up and throwing away the key has been done before and it didn’t magically erase crime. Not to mention that approach creates a whole bunch of other problems. Some of you are quite obtuse.

  36. Ron Legro says:

    Vincent: I agree with you in principle but it’s not the city incarcerating tons of people, it’s the county, which runs the courts, and the state as well.

  37. Vincent Hanna says:

    OK fair point we live in a county and state that incarcerate a ton of people. https://www.citylab.com/equity/2016/08/how-wisconsin-became-the-home-of-black-incarceration/496130/

  38. Robert Miranda says:

    In primary Alderman Joe Davis campaigned for mayor on lead water poisoning the city, Barrett kept refuting him. Barrett kept arguing the water is safe because corrosion control treatment was working. Barrett knew it was not. Ald. Davis kept pointing out that our city water supply flowing through lead laterals is poisoning children and harming the unborn because mothers were drinking lead contaminated water. Davis kept demanding during the campaign the city should issue water alert advising residents with lead pipes to use filters. Barrett harmed our city.

  39. Vincent Hanna says:

    And Davis lost didn’t he Mr. Miranda? So voters had a chance to weigh in on this issue and they chose Barrett. Deal with it. You undermine your own argument.

  40. Ted Chisholm says:

    The lead issue is serious and affects most large municipalities in the state. It is by no means justification to recall the mayor, who understands the gravity of the situation and is doing his due diligence with limited resources. Certainly, the recall effort raises many questions about exactly whose interests it is advancing.

  41. Ted Chisholm – Mayor Barrett’s lack of commitment towards addressing the lead poisoning of children as result of drinking tap water from lead pipes coupled with the long term affects of lead poisoning, makes this a perfect reason to recall. This is a public health crisis and Barrett has done everything, including lying on TV saying that the water was to drink, to avoid developing a comprehensive plan to address this public health crisis. This is a perfect example of lack of leadership. Barrett along with other elected officials that want to continue to ignore or downplay the severity of this public health crisis should be recalled as well

  42. Robert Miranda says:

    MKE Department of Health lacks hard data that links lead in water to high blood lead levels in MKE Children because testing water for lead was hardly done. Testing for paint chips, soil and dust were the primary sources MHD focused on. But who cares.

  43. Always Outspoken says:

    Vincent Hanna – I see you doing a bunch of complaining about the infeasibility of my suggestions and throwing around a few insults to boot. That’s about par for the course when hardcore liberals are faced with facts and realities that don’t fit their opinions. What I don’t see from you are any alternative suggestions that address the very real problems I cited. As I said, the status quo obviously isn’t working.
    You and Barrett are birds of a feather. You refuse to acknowledge the problems that your party’s belief system has created in our city, and steadfastly adhere to your ideologies despite evidence of their failure in the real world.

  44. Vincent Hanna says:

    First of all, I was not responding to or addressing you.

    “You refuse to acknowledge the problems that your party’s belief system has created in our city, and steadfastly adhere to your ideologies despite evidence of their failure in the real world.”

    That is so incredibly vague it could apply to basically any political party.

  45. Always Outspoken says:

    Vincent Hanna – And BTW, crime is not a “complex issue”. Its a choice made by some folks to ignore the laws we all have to abide by. Not all poor people turn to a life of crime, nor do all folks raised in poor areas of town or by single parents choose to become criminals. Many folks facing those same challenges rise above them by dedication to getting an education and working hard.
    It’s a CHOICE.

  46. Vincent Hanna says:

    Tell that to Donald Trump, Jr.

  47. Always Outspoken says:

    Vincent Hanna – Is DT jr. somehow connected to this recall?
    If not, why do you mention him?

  48. Vincent Hanna says:

    Not all rich people are criminals AO. Just some of them.

  49. AG says:

    I’m not a big fan of Barrett, I have many criticisms. However, recalls are a waste of resources. Just like it was with Walker. Recalls should be held for only those politicians who are guilty of true malfeasance in office, not the lame items listed here. These are just political positions. If you don’t like those positions, nominate and vote for someone else next time. Stop wasting our time and money!

  50. Vincent Hanna says:

    Could not agree more AG. This is lowering the bar for a recall to a ridiculously low level. There was an election just last year and as even recall supporters say the issues they are concerned about were part of the election. Barrett still won in a landslide.

  51. Tom D says:

    If Barrett should be recalled because of the lead lateral problem, why shouldn’t Scott Walker also be recalled. Is Barrett any more responsible for the problem than Walker?

  52. Jake says:

    Milwaukee’s increased poverty and crime is Walkers and the Republicans fault. I agree with Ron, this is purely a right-wing authoritarian move to weaken Milwaukee. Barrett has issues, but anybody not a fascist, also known as republicans and conservatives, should not sign this petition.

  53. Bob says:

    Darryl Farmer AKA King Rick is a convicted felon who currently has a restraining order against him until June 7, 2019 for attempting to shake down store owners for cash and store merchandise under the guise he was providing security for them with his band of wanna be thugs. If Allen Jansen were truly serious about this recall effort why would you appoint a convicted felon with a restraining order against him as the treasurer of your group? This recall is going nowhere fast but king rick might be able to line his pockets with some cash as he collects money for the group.

  54. Dragonkat motorsports says:

    Cause everyone know king rick is a joke
    Just like this so called recall, there’s no plan to get city folks to sign the recall and there’s no one who’s looking to run

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