Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Barrett Replacing FPC Chair, Vice Chair

Three new appointments by mayor would reshape the Fire & Police Commission.

By - Jun 9th, 2021 03:54 pm
Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayor Tom Barrett is attempting to make his promised changes to the Fire & Police Commission. He announced three new appointments Wednesday to the public safety oversight board.

Barrett made the pledge in 2020 following the controversial, unanimous demotion of police chief Alfonso Morales. A lawsuit is currently pending on that matter, with Morales scheduled to get his job back later this month if no settlement is reached.

The new appointees, subject to Common Council confirmation, would replace chair Nelson Soler and vice chair Angela McKenzie as well as filling a vacancy created by the resignation of former chair Steven M. DeVougas.

Barrett would leave Ann Wilson on the commission with an expired term dating back to 2018. She lived in Glendale for a period after her term lapsed, making her ineligible for reappointment or to continue serving, though she did. He nominated her for a new five-year term last year, but the council rejected the reappointment.

With the new members, the commission would have seven members.

The new appointees are retired state appeals court judge and former U.S. attorney Joan Kessler, MENTOR Greater Milwaukee executive director LaNelle Ramey and Marquette University law school professor and former state supreme court candidate Edward Fallone.

“These nominees will bring enormous talent and experience to the Fire and Police Commission. Each has a notable record of professional accomplishment and considerable insight into issues of public safety and the law,” said Barrett in a statement. “I am confident their addition will elevate the work of the commission to a new level.”

In recent years Barrett has had a checkered record of getting nominees confirmed.

Retired Milwaukee Police Department employee Denise Bartlett was rejected in early 2019 after sparring with the council, retired MPD officer Raymond Robakowski was confirmed on a 13-2 council vote, but resigned from the commission last year after sparring with Soler and Wilson, an employee of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, was recently rejected for her reappointment. Amanda Avalos was approved the council to replace Robakowski, but only after her appointment was delayed because the interim FPC executive director ordered the wrong type of background check.

His new candidates bring a wide range of experience and none have the baggage of being current or former city employees.

Kessler served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin under President Jimmy Carter from 1978 to 1981. She then practiced as an attorney with Foley & Lardner before winning an elected seat on the Wisconsin Court Appeals in 2004. She held that post until 2020. She is married to former state representative Fred Kessler.

Ramey has served as executive director of MENTOR Greater Milwaukee since 2019, previously working at Milwaukee Public Schools as director of Black and Latino achievement and at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee. He has an undergraduate degree in criminal law studies and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Marquette University.

Fallone has served as an associate professor at Marquette University Law School since 1992. He specializes in constitutional and immigration law as well as securities regulation and white-collar crime. Fallone ran unsuccessfully for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2013 and 2020. He was involved in the formation and leadership of three nonprofits serving underprivileged, primarily Latino residents of southeast Wisconsin in the 1990s and early 2000s. He has also served on the board of Voces de la Frontera.

The appointments would leave the commission with seven members, equalling the most it has ever had. A state law change made in the past decade allows the commission to have up to nine members.

If all were approved, this would mean four of the seven commission members would have been appointed in 2021 with terms running until 2026. Besides Wilson, the next member with an expiring term is retired firefighter Everett Cocroft in 2023.

The commission is responsible for hiring, firing, discipline and policy setting for the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Fire Department.

A new executive director Leon W. Todd III, who leads the commission’s full-time staff and serves as the board’s secretary, was confirmed in December.

Categories: City Hall, Politics, Weekly

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