Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Donovan Runs Afoul of City Gun Policy

Alderman said he knew of city employees carrying firearms, but has failed to report them.

By - Dec 7th, 2017 04:13 pm
Robert Donovan and the Controversial Contractor Photo

Robert Donovan and the Controversial Contractor Photo

The heated debate surrounding a photo of three city contractors carrying firearms continues to ensnare more people, with Alderman Robert Donovan the latest to find himself in hot water. The alderman revealed he had personal knowledge of city employees carrying firearms on the job, something they are forbidden from doing and city officials are required to report.

Yesterday the Common Council’s Public Works Committee held a hearing on the controversial photo, which features one individual brandishing a weapon and two others wearing guns in front of a school. The hearing at the outset was a question-and-answer session with Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban. Then came a series of controversial comments by Donovan.

Donovan suggested the area in which the photo was taken, N. 19th St. and W. Meinecke Ave., is inherently unsafe, which drew an immediate rebuke from committee chair Robert Bauman and council members Nik Kovac, Russell W. Stamper, II and Milele A. Coggs. Donovan, who said he was playing devil’s advocate, said city officials 20 years ago couldn’t have foreseen the mayhem in the city today, to which multiple committee members responded with the fact that the homicide rate was in fact substantially higher 20 years ago. “The facts are that violent crime is up slightly compared to the past couple of years, but down compared to 2007 and way down compared to the 1990’s,” said Kovac. The alderman, who chastised Donovan for misrepresenting the issue, went on to say “I don’t think anyone here is glossing over the reality that there are too many homicides and too many shootings.”

Donovan, who didn’t defend the specific actions of the photographed contractors, went on to ask Korban if he was aware that city employees were carrying firearms for self defense. Korban responded that he was not. Donovan, in response to a follow-up question by Bauman, said that he knew of specific employees carrying firearms because he had discussed the matter with them.

That apparently was enough to trigger a response from city Employee Relations Director Maria Monteagudo.

In an email to city department heads and council members, she wrote:

At the Public Works Committee meeting this morning, a Committee member indicated that he had direct knowledge of certain city employees who were carrying weapons in the workplace. This serves as a reminder to all department heads and other officials that this represents a violation of the City’s Firearms and Dangerous Weapons Policy (in effect since November of 2011). Any employee or official who is aware of a violation of this policy is required to refer the matter to the appropriate appointing authority for review and investigation. Given this discussion, I strongly encourage you to issue a policy reminder to your employees and to discuss enforcement responsibilities with managers and supervisors. The City’s policy can be found at

Has Donovan responded, or made any effort to report employees he claims to have been carrying weapons? Donovan hasn’t responded to a request for comments, while Monteagudo tells Urban Milwaukee that she hasn’t received any reports since the hearing of employees carrying weapons.

While it’s unlikely Donovan will be disciplined on the matter, the suggestion that city employees are carrying weapons is certain to muddy the waters as the council considers legislation to ban contractors from doing so. And Donovan, based on his comments Wednesday morning, is likely to oppose the ban.

Ald. Stamper, in whose district the photo was taken, has promised to introduce legislation that would ban on-the-job weapon possession by contractors, a policy consistent with restrictions on city employees.

The email from Monteagudo came hours after Donovan further stoked the fire around the issue, by issuing a press release asking for Bauman to issue an apology to Assistant City Attorney Kathy Block for “bullying” Block during a heated back-and-forth discussion regarding her decision not to express her personal views on the matter.

Coggs Gets Sent Racist Rant

The fallout from the debate isn’t confined to just Donovan and Bauman and is getting uglier. Alderwoman Coggs, an African American, posted on Instagram a screenshot of an email she was sent after the hearing. The email says “You colored folks in government should just shut the fuck up. Whitey is starting to arm up because all your little nigga chillen are robbing and killing. Does the name Ziggy ring a bell? You folks should have been shipped back from where you came when you were freed.” The sender’s name is listed as “Kevin Paul.”

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4 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Donovan Runs Afoul of City Gun Policy”

  1. Tom says:

    Obviously Mr. wannabe mayor Donovan is circumventing city rules. When are you going to report those employees Donovan?

  2. Lucy Cooper says:

    Donovan just can’t help himself – he has to shoot off his big mouth even when it hurts his friends with no discernible good outcome. If city workers are carrying guns the best thing Donovan could do is shut up . If ever there were a place for “Don’t ask, don’t tell” this is it. There is NO WAY politically that this common council will approve city workers carrying weapons. If they didn’t do it in response to Ziggy’s murder by a teen car jacket, it’s not going to happen. So bloviating about crime and exposing the fact some city workers may be carrying weapons just inflamed his liberal and minority colleagues and put his friends in the city workforce in danger of being disciplined or fired if they are ratted out. Dumb.

    All Donovan did is kill his credibility on issues where he is right – like Bauman owing that poor Asst. City Atty an apology for unpardonable bullying.

    What a mess.

  3. Sam says:

    Donovan and credibility?

  4. Tom says:

    Well said Lucy !

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