Op Ed

Mayor Barrett Is Asleep At The Switch

His handling of Fire and Police Commission is just one example of increasingly negligent leadership.

By - Dec 26th, 2020 09:57 am
Mayor Tom Barret. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayor Tom Barret. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Earlier this week, Mayor Tom Barrett promised Milwaukee residents that there would be “changes” to the embattled Fire and Police Commission after a judge reversed their decision to demote Chief Alfonso Morales. Barrett said these changes would be manifested in his new appointments to the FPC, but can we count on that?

Mayor Barrett has appointed every single person currently on the Fire and Police Commission, and there have recently been opportunities to put his money where his mouth is, but we seem to be getting more of the same.

For instance, he has renominated Commissioner Ann Wilson who is in-part responsible for Morales’s bungled demotion. He has also nominated Ms. Amanda Avalos who not only advocated for harsher sanctions on Morales, but has also explicitly said that she wants to “abolish” the police. This is not a commentary on whether or not we should abolish the police, but Mayor Barrett has clearly said that he is against any notion of abolishing the police, and if his budget and advocacy for the COPS grant is any indication, he is very much against any substantial effort to divest from the Milwaukee Police Department.

Why does the Mayor nominate people to be commissioners who hold policing philosophies so radically different than his own? When we elect a mayor, we assume that their nominations to positions will generally share the same values that he has, indeed, that has to be our assumption since commissioners are unelected. His nomination of someone who has such strong anti-police views to a police oversight body, views which Barrett himself disagrees with, is incoherent.

Of course, diversity is good. We don’t necessarily want an FPC that rubber stamps everything that the mayor wants, but we don’t want people with such diverse philosophies on policing that basic things such as, say, hiring a police chief, can’t get done. And it does not make a whole lot of sense to nominate people who are totally against police to this body. How can we trust that Ms. Avalos will implement police reforms, accountability, act impartially in disciplinary cases, etc. when she believes reforms are futile and that abolition of the entire department is the only tenable solution?

So, in the wake of the Morales fiasco, the two appointees that Barrett has nominated supported demoting and firing Morales in a manner that has cost the city dearly. These are not changes that will make the Fire and Police Commission work better for the City.

This FPC saga, though, is just one piece of burning debris in an administration that is, quite frankly an utter dumpster fire. During a record setting crime wave, all-time high vehicle accidents, overdoses, suicides, and a pandemic, we have an acting police chief, acting fire chief, and an acting health commissioner. The mayor’s relationship with the Common Council is terrible, his relationship with the State Legislature is even worse, our City is on the brink of financial ruin due to police pension contracts that he himself signed off on, and he just won an election this Spring! It’s hard for me to imagine how that could have happened and things deteriorate so badly so quickly. Hopefully, Milwaukee residents remember this dysfunction come 2024, and hopefully the damage is still reversible by then.

Jordan Morales (no relation to Chief Morales), is a resident of the City of Milwaukee.

4 thoughts on “Op Ed: Mayor Barrett Is Asleep At The Switch”

  1. Mark Nicolini says:

    Mr. Morales is mistaken regarding the issue of police pension contracts. Police pension benefits were established prior to Mr. Barrett becoming Mayor.. In fact, his administration has been able to negotiate some modest changes, including a higher minimum retirement age. More importantly, police now pay their employe pension contribution, instead of the City paying it on their behalf.

  2. keewaysservices says:

    He is not the only one asleep. All of the aldermen especially the ones elected to represent the central city. As the garbage pile up in the neighborhood, rodent carry germs and possible COVID- 19, taxes go up, water bill go up, city refusal to accept grant for more police, aldermen are content to send out briefs and statements .
    Black Life Matter IN CONTEXT OF POLICE but also Black Life Environment matter .

  3. GodzillakingMKE says:

    MKE cops have a core of white supremacists. I know because I saw the legacy with knowing some of the Thugs from the Jude beating.
    Morales didnt care about MKE residents, Barret needs to go.

  4. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Our mayor is not a brilliant leader, but he is a calming presence. I have supported him for many years, but I would eagerly support a more brilliant leader in these troubled times. Support a worthy successor, Mayor Tom, and retire before this city gets the best of you.

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