Mayor Barrett Is Asleep At The Switch
His handling of Fire and Police Commission is just one example of increasingly negligent leadership.
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.
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.
- City Hall: Council Confirms Avalos, Adds Tie-Breaking Vote to Fire & Police Commission - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 19th, 2021
- City Hall: City Attorney Issues Confidential Opinion Regarding Morales Demotion - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 15th, 2021
- City Hall: Committee Rejects Ann Wilson’s FPC Reappointment - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 7th, 2021
- Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Completes FPC Background Investigation - Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office - Jan 7th, 2021
- FPC should halt selection of new police chief - Common Council President Cavalier Johnson - Jan 4th, 2021
- Op Ed: Mayor Barrett Is Asleep At The Switch - Jordan Morales - Dec 26th, 2020
- City Hall: Judge Restores Alfonso Morales As Police Chief - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 18th, 2020
- Jeffrey Norman Will Serve as Acting Police Chief - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 18th, 2020
- City Hall: Avalos Confirmation On Hold Because of FPC Misstep - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 14th, 2020
- City Hall: Committee Backs Leon Todd to Lead FPC - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 14th, 2020
Read more about Fire & Police Commission's Troubles here