The Ann Wilson Problem
Mayor's chief of staff promises she will be replaced on Fire & Police Commission. But when?
Everyone says they like Ann Wilson.
But not everyone wants her to continue to serve on the Fire & Police Commission (FPC), especially after the board unanimously demoted police chief Alfonso Morales and engulfed the city in a lawsuit.
Council members asked Thursday during a meeting of the Public Safety & Health Committee why Barrett was making three new appointments to the FPC but not replacing Wilson.
“We still don’t know what the plan is,” said Alderman Jose G. Perez regarding Wilson and possibly filling all nine positions.
“The mayor feels strongly that she is a good voice of the community and adds a lot of value to the committee and there needs to be a really solid replacement to fill that position should he choose to go that way,” said Barrett’s chief of staff Jodie Tabak.
Wilson, 73, has served on the commission since 2013 and is well regarded, particularly for her role as manager of the Hillside Terrace Resource Center for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee.
“If Ms. Wilson was so valuable I don’t understand why she was on the commission for years with an expired term,” said Perez.
Multiple sources told Urban Milwaukee that was because she legally couldn’t be reappointed. She no longer lived in the City of Milwaukee and wasn’t eligible to even continue to serve, though she did.
Voting records indicate Wilson lived in Glendale from at least February 2018 to April 2019. She now lives on the East Side.
Bartlett, who is white, told the council she would bring diversity to the commission as part of her role replacing Wilson, who is Black. That was one of many issues that caused the council to spar with Bartlett. The council rejected her on a 3-11-1 vote in May 2019.
But council members and the mayor’s office appear to have forgotten that battle. Both sides made comments Thursday indicating that the mayor never nominated someone to replace Wilson.
Perez called it an “abuse” by Barrett to leave Wilson on the commission after the council denied her reappointment.
Tabak said the mayor is working on a replacement for Wilson as part of a strategy to go from seven to nine members.
“I can tell you the mayor is in communication with someone that he feels would be an appropriate replacement for her,” said Tabak. She said Barrett spoke with the potential nominee on June 19th.
It was the first time the mayor’s office has publicly confirmed a replacement for Wilson is coming.
“This is why there is such a strained relationship between the council and mayor’s office,” said Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, citing a lack of communication. “This process is botched at best.”
Spiker said he didn’t think his relationship was strained, but said more communication was needed. He asked for the timeline.
“Both the candidate and the mayor understand the urgency,” said Tabak.
“That’s a canned response there,” said Spiker.
“Would you like me to say it differently?” asked Tabak.
Committee chair Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic called for an end to this back and forth.
“It’s a dynamic situation that has been evolving,” said Tabak.
Until then, Wilson continues to serve on the commission. She is slated to cast a vote for the next commission chair at the board’s July 15th meeting.
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Read more about Fire & Police Commission's Troubles here