Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

The Inspector General Is Coming

Common Council creates its own watchdog to monitor city departments.

By - Sep 25th, 2018 12:32 pm
City Hall is visible in the background. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

City Hall is visible in the background. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

In response to the crisis at the Milwaukee Health Department, the Milwaukee Common Council has created the new position of Inspector General.

The position, which will need to be funded in the next city budget, was first introduced by Alderman Robert Donovan in the wake of January’s revelations of significant failures with the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. The proposal drew the support of newly-appointed health commissioner Jeanette Kowalik during her confirmation hearing.

Donovan found support from a number of his colleagues on the council as well. Joining the south side alderman in supporting the new position were co-sponsors Mark Borkowski, Robert Bauman, Ashanti Hamilton, Jose G. Perez, Russell W. Stamper, II, Khalif Rainey and Chantia Lewis.

The position, designed to be a watchdog over the city that is answerable to the Common Council, will be housed within the City Clerk‘s office. Donovan, who expressed frustration that past referrals for investigation have died, said his vision is for an independent position that can investigate concerns members of the council have.

According to the legislation establishing the position, the Inspector General position would be “appointed in consultation with the President of the Common Council and under the direct supervision of the President of the Common Council, outside of the administration chain of command” and “would monitor and report on departmental administration, operations and services.”

Ald. Terry Witkowski introduced an amendment on the council floor to have the position be part of the City Comptroller’s office, but the measure was easily defeated by the council on a 2 to 11 vote. Ald. Michael Murphy supported Witkowski’s change, while Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs abstained.

Donovan and Tony Zielinski said the position needs to be in the clerk’s office because that the clerk is independent of the rest of the city on account of being elected by the council. Both echoed support for current Comptroller Martin Matson, but said they were unsure about the future of the position and who might hold the elected post.

Matson, in a letter to the council, supported the creation of the position, but recommended it be placed in the Internal Audit Division of his office. He cautioned that placing the position in the clerk’s office could result in “politically motivated audits.”

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Categories: City Hall, Politics

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