Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Another Council Committee Opposes Wilson

Majority of council opposes Ann Wilson's reappointment to Fire & Police Commission.

By - Mar 10th, 2021 09:56 am
Mayor Tom Barrett and Ann Wilson accept a grant in 2018. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayor Tom Barrett and Ann Wilson accept a grant in 2018. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Yet another Common Council committee voted to reject the reappointment of Ann Wilson to the Fire & Police Commission.

She’s the first commissioner to go before the council for reappointment after the citizen-led commission voted unanimously to demote police chief Alfonso Morales in August.

Morales successfully sued the city for reinstatement, with City Attorney Tearman Spencer admitting in a court filing that the chief’s due process rights were violated. Morales is widely expected to secure a settlement with the city that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wilson, 73, has served on the commission since 2013. Her term expired in 2018, during a period when she lived outside of the city, but she continued to serve. Mayor Tom Barrett moved to reappoint her in December.

After multiple meetings, the Public Safety & Health Committee voted to reject her reappointment in January.

Common Council President Cavalier Johnson requested a report from the Inspector General on a conflict between Wilson’s testimony and that of the City Attorney on when and if guidance on the Morales vote was issued. The report sided with the City Attorney.

“The only thing I would like to say, is that all the things that have been said, some are true, some are not, we have been through all of that, but I would like to serve again,” said Wilson on Monday during an appearance before the Steering & Rules Committee.

“Did we mistake some mistakes? Yes we did, but I personally did not knowingly make a mistake,” said Wilson. “I wouldn’t do anything to cost this city any extra money or any extra kind of discord. I would never do that.”

The committee voted 5-3 to recommend to the full 15-member council to reject her reappointment. Johnson, Michael Murphy, Robert Bauman, Jose G. Perez and Marina Dimitrijevic voted for the rejection. Council members Ashanti Hamilton, Milele A. Coggs and Khalif Rainey voted for her reappointment.

Three other council members, Chantia Lewis, Scott Spiker and Mark Borkowski, have already voted against her reappointment or told Urban Milwaukee they intend to, giving the council the necessary eight votes for a rejection. Rainey previously voted against Wilson’s reappointment, but voted to back her Monday.

“She has been one of the most open and transparent members of the commission,” said Hamilton, praising her commitment to serve. He was backed by Coggs.

Dimitrijevic also praised Wilson as an individual, and for her work as manager of the Hillside Terrace Resource Center for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. But she said she wanted to move in a different direction.

Hamilton said he was disappointed blame is being placed on one commissioner for a decision of the whole body. But the council could reject the other reappointments if they come up. Two of the seven commissioners who served on the board when Morales was demoted, Raymond Robakowski and Steven M. DeVougas, have already resigned.

Barrett told Urban Milwaukee in December he judges each of the commissioners differently. In January he said his office remained committed to getting Wilson reappointed.

Whether Wilson’s reappointment is rejected or not, she would continue to serve until she either resigns or a replacement is confirmed.

In early 2019 the council rejected a potential replacement, retired Milwaukee Police Department employee Denise Bartlett, after she publicly sparred with the council.

2 thoughts on “City Hall: Another Council Committee Opposes Wilson”

  1. Paul Mozina says:

    One thing missing yesterday was any discussion of Wilson’s performance as a Commissioner over her last 8 years on the Board, with the exception of the Morales demotion vote.

    To: Milwaukee Common Council
    Re: Vote NO on CC File 201191 – Reappointment of Ann Wilson to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners by the Mayor.

    Commissioner Wilson has not earned another 5-year term on the Board of the FPC; it’s time for a change. Her main interest is working with young people rather than overseeing the operations, policies and procedures of the MPD and MFD. When asked by Alderman Spiker (jump to 1:23:15 in video what uniquely qualifies her to serve on the Commission, Ms. Wilson answered that she cares about people and asks the tough question: “What are WE gonna do?”

    After 7 ½ years on the FPC Board, she thinks that the biggest problem with the Commission is, “by law”, they can’t talk to each other (1:15:00). Open Meetings Rules do not categorically prevent Commissioners from writing down their thoughts and sharing them. Commissioner Wilson never learned how to work effectively within the Commission and has never served as the Chair of any Committee.

    Commissioner Wilson has failed to hold herself, the Board, and its Executive Director, to the standards of governance that we have a right to demand of the most powerful civilian oversight board in the country. The demotion of former MPD Chief Alfonso Morales is the Board’s most recent and glaring fiasco. After 8 years on the Board, sitting as a judge at eight appeals trials, reviewing literally hundreds of suspensions, demotions and discharges, Commissioner Wilson thought it was OK to demote the Chief without giving him due process, or issuing any final written findings or order.

    If Commissioner Wilson had read and understood Wis. Stat. 62.50, which governs the FPC, and the FPC’s own rules, she would not have abandoned her own judgement, ignored common sense, and blamed the Board’s indefensible actions in the Morales debacle on the City Attorney’s advice.

    Commissioner Wilson has not demonstrated the independence to stand up and fight for us, whether that is demanding police accountability, getting an important item on an agenda or holding her fellow Board members to ethical standards commensurate with their weighty responsibilities. The involvement of Commissioner DeVougas in the interview of an alleged suspect in a sexual assault cried out for an ethics investigation. But when Commissioner DeVougas announced at the FPC meeting on February 6, 2020 (38:25): “in the spirit of transparency… let’s just get it all done and out in the open”, that he had requested a confidential advisory opinion from the Ethics Board, Commissioner Wilson had no problem with that, despite former Commissioner Robakowski quickly pointing out that the Board should be requesting the opinion so that it could review the results.

    Finally, when Alderman Spiker asked Commissioner Wilson (1:21:06) if she had any second thoughts about seeking reappointment after her first term expired in 2018, she replied: “I had second thoughts at one time, because things were not as exciting, and the opportunities were not as great as they are now.” The Common Council has a great opportunity – now – to replace Commissioner Wilson with someone who understands how to work within the Commission to get things done; someone who will master the rules and procedures of the FPC; and finally, someone with the courage, dedication and independence to faithfully represent this community on the most powerful governing body of its kind in the nation – Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission.

  2. says:

    Ditto for Paul Mozina’s comments, Wilson does not deserve to continue serving on this board, not only for the instances highlighted by Mr. Mozina but for the fact that Ms. Wilson does not bring the insight, activism nor the ability to advocate for the needs of our most marginalized and underserved community members. We need someone who can address the problems generated by the actions of law enforcement and to advance solutions that better serve our community. It’s time for new blood on this commission. Reviewing what she has and has not done in her role clearly indicates she is not appropriate for the FPC.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us