City Attorney Issues Confidential Opinion Regarding Morales Demotion
Attorney has previously said commission denied Morales his due process rights.
City Attorney Tearman Spencer announced Friday he has issued a confidential legal opinion to the Fire & Police Commission regarding its unanimous demotion of then-Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales.
The commission gave Morales 11 directives in July, then voted unanimously to demote him a couple weeks later, Morales elected to retire and sued the city. In a filing with the case, Spencer said Morales was denied his due process rights.
At least one member of the commission, Ann Wilson, has said publicly that the City Attorney’s Office provided guidance that the commission’s actions were lawful. But the City Attorney’s Office has told Common Council members that wasn’t the case. A committee spent over an hour in closed session last week before recommending Wilson not be reappointed to the commission.
“Several recent statements seemed to question the integrity and competency of the legal advice given to the FPC. The lawyers in the City Attorney’s Office are very competent,” said Spencer in a statement. “This culture of political finger-pointing, shifting blame, and promulgating unfounded, politically-charged statements does not result in positive outcomes. The City Attorney’s Office can provide legal advice to clients, but that does not necessitate that the client will follow the advice given.”
Spencer did not release the opinion, citing it as confidential and covered by attorney-client privilege. He said it was requested by the commission.
Morales was given a four-year term as chief on December 18th, 2019 shortly after the council approved the appointment of Commissioner Raymond Robakowski. The commissioner, a former police officer, praised Morales. By July he had become Morales’ biggest critic. Then in October he resigned after accusing the commission chair, Nelson Soler, of behaving like a dictator.
Spencer, who was first elected in April, was critical of his predecessor Grant Langley in his January press release.
“It should be apparent to residents of this City that there’s a resistance to much needed change and reform,” said Spencer. “Bureaucracy is very prevalent in our local government. My predecessor held the role of City Attorney for nearly 40 years. The policies that were implemented over the past four decades unfortunately still influence and plague City Hall. I ran for the City Attorney’s Office on a platform of change. The residents of Milwaukee overwhelmingly elected me to lead and usher in the needed change. I was elected with a mandate.”
“I will remain resolute in my mission on which I campaigned: To restore the trust of city government to the residents of Milwaukee,” said Spencer.
- Mayor Tom Barrett released the following statement: - Mayor Tom Barrett - Feb 15th, 2021
- City Hall: DeVougas Resigns From Fire & Police Commission - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 15th, 2021
- City Hall: FPC Members, City Attorney Blew Off Inspector General Interview Requests - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 15th, 2021
- City Hall: Attorney Didn’t Want Inspector General Report Made Public - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 12th, 2021
- 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
Read more about Fire & Police Commission's Troubles here