Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Ban On Contractors With Guns Passed

Common Council passes ban unanimously, and orders study of ending outside contracting.

By - Dec 19th, 2017 12:33 pm
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American Sewer Services employees displaying weapons. Photo posted by Brian Oliver.

American Sewer Services employees displaying weapons. Photo posted by Brian Oliver.

The Common Council voted unanimously to direct the City Attorney and Department of Public Works to update city contract language to ban outside contractors from carrying weapons on city job sites. The move comes after three employees of American Sewer Services were photographed openly carrying firearms, with one brandishing the weapon.

The move would place contractors in line with existing city policy that bans city employees from carrying weapons.

The directive stipulates the contract language would apply to contractors and their sub-contractors. But it would not affect existing city contracts.

The directive further orders city contracts be updated to prevent contractors from wearing vests of other firms. The move comes because the infamous gun photo pictured American Sewer employees wearing vests from Poblocki Paving. The photo, which was first posted on Facebook, triggered misplaced outrage towards Poblocki.

The directive requires the city to enforce the measures. Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban told the council’s Steering and Rules Committee Monday that city inspectors, with the intent to inspect work, visit job sites daily.

End Outside Contracting?

Following a unanimous vote by the council, the Department of Public Works must now report back to the council on the feasibility of ending outside contracting for city infrastructure and bringing that work in-house.

The directive stipulates that the Department of Public Works must “submit a preliminary report of the study’s findings to the Common Council by January 31, 2018, a follow-up report of preliminary findings by February 28, 2018, and a final report of the report’s complete findings by March 31, 2018.”

Ald. Jim Bohl expressed his belief that the report could be expensive and likely “grim” in its assessment of the feasibility, but ultimately voted to approve it. Bohl argued that introducing the directives in council instead of through the committee process set a bad precedent.

The idea of bringing the work in-house was first broached publicly by Ald. Robert Bauman at a hearing to discuss the city’s potential response to the gun photo. The idea has been endorsed by other council members as a means to get more city residents involved in contracting.

Ald. Milele A. Coggs spoke in favor of authorizing the study as the first step towards analyzing the issue. “I think the conversation actually comes once we have the facts.”

How many more jobs that could be created for city residents remains to be seen.

At a hearing yesterday, a statement read by an employee of Hartford-based American Sewer Services declared that 50 percent of the firm’s workforce resides in the city. That number would certainly rise if the work is brought in-house, but by how much now that city employees are no longer subject to a residency rule? Urban Milwaukee recently reported that 22 percent of city employees now live outside the city.

Further complicating the matter, multiple sources have confirmed that the now-terminated employee that displayed Ku Klux Klan and Confederate Flag stickers on a cooler is a resident of the city’s South Side.

Stamper Supports Firing American Sewer

After the meeting, Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II reiterated his support for ending the city’s long-standing relationship with American Sewer Services. “Yes, I support a termination of his contract, and I wish I could do it immediately, but I can’t. We have to do with evaluation and judgement. But I can tell you community, get ready, because there are going to be some contracting opportunities out there.”

Stamper was not pleased that American Sewer Services owner Dennis Biondich did not show up for yesterday’s special hearing regarding the company. “Not to show up for a meeting shows a lack of respect for the council, for the city,” Stamper charged.

A city report notes that American Sewer Services has received approximately $50 million in city contracts since 2013.

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More about the Contractor Gun Debate

5 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Ban On Contractors With Guns Passed”

  1. Jim Kilpatrick says:

    It’s unconstitutional.

  2. blurondo says:

    “It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.” The New York Times, 12/5/15.

  3. MKE Kid says:

    Jim, carry all you want on your own time. I do. If you’re working for someone else, you have to abide by their workplace rules.

  4. VonZorch says:

    While Milwaukee is able to require its employees not carry guns on the job as part of their employment contract, trying to require it of an independent contractors employee violates Wisconsin’s firearms preemption law.

  5. wardf3 says:

    not sure of all the laws in Milwaukee but many cities ban the open carry of firearms by city contractors (unless part of the actual job). They do not ban concealed carry nor can they. If a person uses a weapon in a way to break a law that person will be held accountable no matter who they work for.
    Outright ban on having firearms is putting them a trouble down the road. If it is legal for citizens to do so.
    Plain and simple anyone that gives up their right to protect themselves is stupid and nothing more than one of the sheep. I would never put anyone that works for me in harms way nor would I put them in a position that they could not defend themselves.

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