Push To Change City Attorney Office Resisted
'I have been forced to defend myself against specious personnel complaints.'
It’s been a year since I was first elected to bring change and begin a new chapter in City Hall.
Like many of us know very well, change never comes easily and, at times, is met with fierce resistance.
With my election, I told the people of Milwaukee that was all about to change.
No system of business or government will ever welcome with open arms disruption or even a new way of thinking. We know how any governing institution has a tendency of working – slowly and at a pace that for many is nothing less than unacceptable.
Assuming the role of City Attorney is a monumental task. I made a promise to everyone in Milwaukee that business and outcomes would change. That our city would change. That the way we look at our leaders would change.
We’ve seen in recent months that any push for change doesn’t come easily, and many people in the halls of power are used to conducting business the old fashioned way. I have encountered resistance from policymakers at City Hall who have sought to deny me the necessary resources and personnel to run the City Attorney’s Office. I have also been forced to defend myself against specious personnel complaints designed to divert my focus from carrying out the change I promised the citizens of Milwaukee.
The way I see it, we need to go against the grain and we need to shake things up. If we’re not being met with resistance, then we’re not trying hard enough to make meaningful change. If we’re not being criticized for doing things “differently” then we’re not thinking clearly enough.
Since the beginning I’ve brought my own vision to the office. For example, not levying fines on peaceful protestors, and settling a police harassment claim against Sterling Brown. Then, simply calling balls and strikes, I noted the illegal firing of the Police Chief.
The Office of the Milwaukee City Attorney is one of the most important offices in all of city government. The people of Milwaukee, from the south side to the north side, east and west, deserve to have someone who is fighting for their interests – not the interests of making people happy but rather making them see the need to steer our priorities in a new direction.
I pledged to be an open, transparent, and accountable City Attorney and I’ve been working hard to build an office and a new culture that will enable me to follow through on that very promise. While, as expected, my requests for increased capacity have been met with resistance, I won’t stop pushing for the resource my office needs to make the people of Milwaukee know exactly what we’re working on, what the outcomes can and should be, and how important it is to pay attention to what’s happening in City Hall.
As citizens, and voters, we have the ability to make the change we see fit. We have the power to not simply request change, but demand it.
With one year of service to our city, we’ve made some progress. But a lot more needs to be done. I’m asking you to join me in my calls for real reform and accountability, and for city leaders to embrace the changes that our statutory office must fulfill.
The City Attorney’s office will no longer be an office that lives in the shadows of city government. We’re going to build an office that is integrated into our communities and neighboring homes, and shine a new light on all things that are possible for you and our city in the years to come.
It’s time for a new chapter in City Hall. I look forward to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted to build a more cohesive team and program going forward. I hope you’ll join me in my calls for the progressive reforms and resources that we need to move our city forward.
Tearman Spencer, Milwaukee City Attorney.