Zielinski Out as Licenses Committee Chair
Did he lose the powerful post because he's running for mayor?
Alderman Tony Zielinski has lost a powerful position within City Hall, perhaps because he’s looking for an even more powerful one.
Thursday afternoon Milwaukee Common Council president Ashanti Hamilton removed the Bay View alderman from his chairmanship of the council’s powerful Licenses Committee. The committee’s primary role is to oversee the issuance of liquor licenses, including for controversial establishments like the recently opened Silk Milwaukee gentleman’s club.
The south side alderman has held the post since 2012. But there is another job he’s coveting right now. Zielinski announced he was running for mayor in November 2017, even though the general election isn’t scheduled until April 2020.
Zielinski told Urban Milwaukee “this is not the first time he (Hamilton) has removed a committee chair for political reasons. I am proud of my service.”
But what exactly are these political reasons? Zielinski wouldn’t say and Hamilton did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. Some expect Hamilton to run for mayor in 2020 and removing a potential opponent from chairmanship of a committee that tends to attract political donations could be a strategic move. There’s also the fact that Zielinski is allied with the Milwaukee Police Union, which has defended police involved in the tasing of Bucks player Sterling Brown, an incident which has angered many of the city’s African American leaders and residents.
Whatever the reasons, Hamilton has now replaced Zielinski with Ald. Nik Kovac. The East Side and Riverwest alderman is no stranger to the marathon meetings of the committee, having spent much of his ten years on the council serving on it.
Hamilton, who became council president in a move we compared to something from Game of Thrones, relied on Zielinski’s vote to become council president. Part of those political machinations involved both council members Robert Bauman and Kovac being stripped of their chairmanships. However, Bauman was given back chairmanship of the Public Works Committee as part of a musical chairs game that kicked Michael Murphy out of his seat atop the Judiciary and Legislation Committee. Kovac isn’t back atop the Finance & Personnel Committee, but he once again “has a gavel,” as being a chair is known inside City Hall.
Alderman Khalif Rainey was also given the chairmanship of the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee as part of the shakeup, taking the spot last held by Bohl.
With the loss of the chairmanship Zielinski is also stripped of his seat on the Steering & Rules Committee made up of all the committee chairs.
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