Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Zielinski Bashes Barrett, Flynn

And Ald. Borkowski joins in, bashing the budget of "Rip Van Barrett."

By - Oct 19th, 2017 03:36 pm
Ald. Tony Zielinski and Ald. Mark Borkowski. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Ald. Tony Zielinski and Ald. Mark Borkowski. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s all about priorities for Tony Zielinski and Mark Borkowski. And right now those priorities are attacking the streetcar and firing police chief Edward A. Flynn.

The two aldermen held a mid-day press conference in the City Hall rotunda following Mayor Tom Barrett‘s veto of a request for state legislation that would allow the council to fire the police chief. The legislation, which would require a change in state law, would allow the Common Council to remove the fire or police chief with a two-third’s majority vote. The council passed the legislation on a 8-to-6 vote on Tuesday, and Barrett, as promised, vetoed it by the end of the day.

Zielinski opened the press conference by noting “this is not about the chief, it’s about leadership to protect citizens.” He then went on to criticize the chief for standing with Barrett though his budget cuts the number of police and fire fighters. “We have a police chief who is charged with protecting people in this community, and we have a mayor who is cutting protective services, and the chief doesn’t say one word? That shows that we need checks and balances.”

The Bay View alderman recounted his story about emailing Flynn about the COP House Initiative and Flynn telling Zielinski face-to-face that he wasn’t going to respond. Barrett’s response to that in a Tuesday session with the media was this: “A relationship is a two-way street, you have to work at it, you can’t just expect someone to do everything you want them to do. And whether it’s the chief himself or his command staff, or the captains in the stations, I think there is a lot of interaction between the police hierarchy and the aldermen, and I think there should be.”

Borkowski took the mic after Zielinski’s opening remarks and noted “the objective has been accomplished. We have their attention. Rip Van Barrett and Chief Flynn now basically know that the crime level in this community is not acceptable, hello! For anyone to say that it’s okay or it’s the new norm, this is not what the Common Council is about. And so we are going to do whatever measures we have to, regardless of whether it’s not not good or it’s dumb or whatever, the bottom line is that we have their attention finally.”

Responding to a question after their remarks, Zielinski admitted he doesn’t have the ten votes yet to overturn the veto, stating “we’re working on that.” Adding Ald. Bob Donovan, who was excused from Tuesday’s vote, would give the council nine votes, but it’s also possible some council members will vote against overturning the veto. Might something else be in the works? “If we move forward with a vote of no confidence [in Chief Flynn] I don’t think there would be any trouble getting sufficient numbers to get that approved” said Zielinski.

Zielinski repeatedly stated that Barrett’s proposed budget doesn’t show public safety as a priority. Yet when pushed for how he would overcome a structural deficit that will result in the elimination of 75 firefighter and 33 police officer positions, Zielinski didn’t have many details to offer. He stated “Right now I think I should have enough amendments to restore all the police positions and I’m working on amendments on the fire department.” He went on to note “In the mayor’s budget he said that the streetcar isn’t impacting the budget, and yet we found positions in his budget that were directly impacting the budget.” Zielinski later acknowledged that the $10 million streetcar sponsorship by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino would cover the cost of those positions, but doubled down on the assertion that the streetcar was taking police officers off the street, saying “I’m sure there are plenty of other areas that there is money being siphoned off.”

The alderman declined to identify what he will cut in his amendments to fund the police positions. He released a press release earlier this week announcing legislation that would allow people to donate directly to the police department.

Zielinski noted that frequent Barrett critic Bob Donovan would have been in attendance at the press conference, but was away tending to his ailing father. Donovan also missed Tuesday’s meeting of the Common Council.

For more background on the legislation to fire the chiefs, see my Tuesday article “Council Votes for Authority to Fire Flynn.”

Law and Order Budget Hawks?

Borkowski and Zielinski have attempted to establish a position as budget hawks in response to the mayor’s latest budget, but both have a checkered history. Both were previously Milwaukee County Supervisors that voted for the infamous pension backdrops that have cost the county hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, Zielinski continues to push for a new, city-owned park in his district with no public plan on how to fund it long-term.

Their record as being supporters of law and order is more consistent. Borkowski attacked the $5 million, 74-plaintiff settlement regarding illegal strip and cavity searches conducted by members of the Milwaukee Police Department, calling it the “wimpification of the police department. All of a sudden now we cannot pursue cars that are stolen, we cannot check different cavities as far as drugs.” Those comments drew a quick rebuke from members of the council as well as the mayor.

Zielinski has a length history of backing tough law-and-order proposals, as detailed by my colleague Bruce Murphy in a 2014 profile.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here. 

18 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Zielinski Bashes Barrett, Flynn”

  1. Sam says:

    These men are clowns.

  2. michael says:

    I tend more with Barrett. We ultimately need to increase the property tax base. The biggest bang for the buck is closer to downtown, where a vacant lot can be turned into a $40M dollar building, while also increasing the values of the properties around it. A great downtown is a cash cow; a tide that raises all ships. Walking around it recently, it feels like we’re really getting pretty close to the tipping point. Once the dust settles on this most recent round of projects, I think people will be pretty surprised by what downtown has become.

  3. Ted Chisholm says:

    “Regardless of whether it’s not good or it’s dumb or whatever, the bottom line is that we have their attention finally.”

    At least Borkowski is honest about his shenanigans. Remember Svengali?

  4. Ted Chisholm says:

    “Listen, he’s been my Svengali,” said Ald. Mark Borkowski, an outspoken conservative and the newest member of the council. [“He” being a right-wing operative aligned with the good alderman]

  5. Adam says:

    How does Zielinski get elected to represent Bayview? With all the young hipsters moving in down there you would think Zielinksi would be target number 1 for progressives in the city come next election.

  6. Steve says:

    If TZ runs for mayor, he won’t win his own district.

  7. David says:

    I’m really getting sick of people who no idea and no plan attacking the Mayor’s budget. Either bring forth your alternatives or sit down and shut up.

    … and never say the word “streetcar” again.

  8. SteveM says:

    Why do I get the distinct impression that we will have better public transportation and less crime when these clowns stop their grandstanding. The streetcar, and hopefully a regional transit authority, will be around longer than private citizen Zielinski.

  9. millions on a streetcar, yet we have a heroine EPIDEMIC . Like what in the hell is going on here!??? We are turning into Detroit Mi. and we will suffer the consequences of not attacking this epidemic as soon as we COULD HAVE. I’m wondering how the heck this junk gets here. Do we not have boarder patrols and drug sniffing dogs? Yet SOMEHOW we have an epidemic- fishy, VERY fishy.

  10. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Glad some people realize what a mess we have and none of the Lefties propose any answers to: crime wave, human trafficking, heroin/Pot epidemic, bad roads, cracking, car theft, MPS a National Disgrace.
    Every year it gets worse inMilwaukee now spreading out to the whole Metro area.
    Only people that recognize this mess are the Digest, Clarke, Frankovis and now Donovan, Zielinski, Borkowski.

  11. SteveM says:

    Oh, now you’re worried about heroin…maybe there should be less oversight of doctors and pharmacies and drug companies??

    And WCD…please, can the canned criticism. What ARE you FOR besides more guns and martial law?

  12. John says:

    These pathetic attention grabbing stunts show Zielinski is clearly trying to position himself to run for mayor.

    His constant nagging and misinformation on the streetcar is how he is trying to align himself with and gain support of Donovan supporters from the last election. As an Alderman he is either 1) purposefully misleading his constituents to stoke anger and build a political base for his run, or 2) he doesn’t read laws and legislation surrounding the issue he is so vehemently against.

    He knew the city wouldn’t approve the rezoning of the park in Bay View (which lies directly next to another park!), but he went ahead anyways to score political points.

    This latest stunt is just another way to position himself to run for higher office. If it were anything more, he and Borkowski would at least be able to offer some alternative and not say things like, “And so we are going to do whatever measures we have to, regardless of whether it’s not not good or it’s dumb or whatever, the bottom line is that we have their attention finally.”

  13. Toni Toni Toni says:

    Tony Z is as crooked as Michael McGee Jr. He should be being investigated for taking kick backs from developers. Giving you the scoop now Jeremy.

  14. Bob Chernow says:

    I do not live in the City. I only work here. But I find it strange that many folks believe that the funds to build and operate the trolley can be used for the police and fire fighters. Construction funds could only
    be used to build the trolley or something similar. Operations are being funded by a sponsor. Yet the “big
    fib” keeps being brought up by politicial types who care more about gaining an advantage than telling the truth.

  15. Thomas says:

    Bob C.
    You are better informed than many who live in this city on the subject of funds designated exclusively for public transportation. My guess is that right wing talk radio haters tell their listeners that it is cool to hate streetcars, possibly cool to lie about it, too.

    WCD’s “heroin/Pot epidemic” suggests that he sees no difference between heroin and marijuana. Here’s a difference: heroin kills people; marijuana does not kill people.

  16. happyjack27 says:

    Just trying to follow the thread.
    What are we talking about?

    A little ADHD here, sorry. Can’t stay on topic. I blame the internet.

  17. Pete the witness says:

    I can’t think of a more effective deterrent to crime than a trolley. I’m sure the killings and carjackings will stop immediately once the trolley revs up. Won’t even need data driven MPD. Crime will cease.

    Boy, all those folks who left MKE cuz of violence and judge-enabled criminality and carjackings and general mayhem and comprehensive failure of MPS (how much longer will the Driver remain, and will it even matter?) and County pension meltdown (go ahead and blame Walker – I do too!) and 2nd, er 3rd rate airport and public money being funneled into playpens for dying sports – will they be sorry!

  18. Thomas says:

    Hey, happyjack, we were talking in response to irrational spite vs streetcars and a police chief as espoused by aldermen z and d. I took it further off track by responding to WCD’s false equivalence of heroin and marijuana. When I think of how some of our alderman get irrationally spiteful wherever a camera appears and I think about how marijuana tends to mellow people, I think we should recommend a field trip to Colorado for aldermen Z & and D … They could book a suite in a hotel in a city in that state, purchase some baked good infused with marijuana, take those baked goods back to the hotel and watch a Marx Brothers movie or 2 on a tv in the hotel. These guys need to lighten up. The Marx Brothers knew a great deal more about who the real bad guys are than our wired for faux outrage aldermen.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us