Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Council Okays Huge Change in FPC Board

Majority of Fire & Police commissioners who voted to demote Chief Morales have now been replaced.

By - Jul 7th, 2021 01:52 pm
Joan Kessler, LaNelle Ramey and Edward Fallone. Photos provided.

Joan Kessler, LaNelle Ramey and Edward Fallone. Photos provided.

In less than a year more than half of the members of the Fire & Police Commission (FPC) have been replaced.

The Common Council voted unanimously Wednesday to add LaNelle RameyJoan Kessler and Edward Fallone to the city’s citizen-led public safety oversight board.

All three were in the council chambers during the meeting, but, unlike some controversial past appointees, they were never called upon to speak.

“I just want to say thanks for their willingness to serve and desire to tackle the big issues facing the city,” said Alderman Ashanti Hamilton.

The new appointments come after an earlier group of commissioners voted unanimously last August to demote police chief Alfonso Morales, triggering a lawsuit from Morales and complaints by at least one council member that the commission was operating as a “kangaroo court.”

The news appointees are replacing chair Nelson Soler and vice chair Angela McKenzie, both of whose terms expire this month. One will also fill a vacancy created by the resignation of former chair Steven M. DeVougas, who was subject to an ethics investigation for his conduct while on the board.

The new commissioners, according to FPC executive director Leon W. Todd, III, are expected to be sworn in before a July 15th meeting where the FPC board will elect a new chair. Todd serves as a non-voting secretary to the board and manages the commission’s full-time staff.

They’ll join Amanda Avalos, who was confirmed in January to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Raymond Robakowski. “Officer Ray,” as the retired officer is known, publicly sparred with Soler last year regarding the search process for a new police chief before resigning in October.

A fifth commissioner, Ann Wilson, is reportedly on her way out. Mayor Tom Barrett originally said he views each member independently and reappointed her for a new five-year term. But the council rejected the reappointment, a largely symbolic move that leaves her on the commission with an expired term.

Barrett’s perceived inaction on finding a Wilson replacement triggered acrimony at the appointment hearing for the three newest members. “I can tell you the mayor is in communication with someone that he feels would be an appropriate replacement for her,” said Barrett’s chief of staff Jodie Tabak on June 24th. She said Barrett spoke with the potential nominee on June 19th.

Tabak said the Wilson replacement would be part of a strategy to grow the commission from seven members to the state-authorized maximum of nine. The other remaining members, Everett Cocroft and Fred Crouther, have terms that last until at least 2024.

The commission is responsible for hiring, firing, discipline and policy setting for the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Fire Department. All of the appointments are made by Barrett and confirmed by the council.

Ramey is the executive director of MENTOR Greater Milwaukee. Kessler is a retired state appeals court judge and former U.S. Attorney. Fallone is a Marquette University law school professor and former state supreme court candidate.

For more on the three, see our coverage from their June confirmation hearings.

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