Council Approves Morales Settlement
Former chief will get $500,000 and now a finalist for job in Dane County suburb.
Former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales is set to be paid approximately $500,000 for a job he won’t have to work, receive a monthly pension in excess of $8,500 and possibly earn a third paycheck as police chief of a Madison suburb.
It’s quite the reversal of fortune from August 2020 when the Fire & Police Commission (FPC) unanimously voted to demote the chief. More than half of the commission’s seven members have since been replaced.
“This was a totally avoidable problem,” said Alderman Michael Murphy on Tuesday as the Common Council considered a settlement agreement. He blamed the mayor-appointed commissioners and Mayor Tom Barrett, who could have vetoed the directives. “It is not fair to taxpayers to shell out this kind of money.”
But Murphy said he was supporting the proposed settlement agreement out of the fear of an even larger cost should Morales prevail in a pending federal lawsuit.
Ald. Scott Spiker was the only other council member to speak on the issue. He too placed the blame on the commission.
The council unanimously approved a $627,000 settlement agreement with Morales. The settlement includes legal fees for Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown.
Morales’ case received help multiple times along the way. City Attorney Tearman Spencer, in a filing, agreed that Morales was denied his due process rights. Then in December, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Foley ruled in Morales’ favor and ordered him reinstated. In May, he set a 45-day timeline for that to happen. That timeline was to allow Morales to return as chief on Saturday, July 3rd before it was jointly delayed twice to allow settlement negotiations to continue.
Barrett has until August 1st to sign the agreement or the city would default on the deal.
The city will pay for the settlement out of contingent borrowing.
But there are other costs related to the settlement beyond the lump-sum payment. The city is using a fund set aside for outside legal representation to pay Cade up to $40,000. Per the settlement agreement, the city will need to pay $1,575 to Resolute Systems to cover Morales’ share of a failed mediation process before retired judge David E. Jones. It will also need to cover its own costs for the failed mediation effort.
Morales, on Monday, was announced as one of four finalists for the police chief job in Fitchburg, a suburb of Madison. A public reception for residents to meet the finalists is planned for August 3.
Since the FPC demoted Morales, commissioners Nelson Soler, Raymond Robakowski, Steven M. DeVougas and Angela McKenzie have either resigned or been replaced as their terms expired. Ann Wilson, Everett Cocroft and Fred Crouther remain on the commission. The council already rejected Barrett’s reappointment of Wilson, but she remains on the commission until a replacement is named.
Morales became an increasingly controversial figure following an evidence leak in a sexual assault investigation involving an FPC commissioner just before the then-acting chief was given a four-year term in December 2019 and the department’s summer 2020 response, including a false claim of a Molotov cocktail thrown at officers, to the protests that occurred following the killing of George Floyd. The issue came to a head at the six-month performance review for Morales in July 2020 when the directives were issued without public debate.
A full copy of the settlement is available on Urban Milwaukee.
- City Hall: Police Chief Search Has One Candidate - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 6th, 2021
- City Hall: FPC Restarting Police Chief Search - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 11th, 2021
- City Hall: Council Approves Morales Settlement - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 27th, 2021
- City Hall: Morales Payout Rises Still Higher - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 19th, 2021
- City Hall: Morales Reaches Tentative, $626,000 Settlement With City - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 13th, 2021
- No Settlement Yet, Morales Will Be Police Chief Again On July 15th - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 9th, 2021
- City Hall: Council Okays Huge Change in FPC Board - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 7th, 2021
- City Hall: Morales Or Milwaukee, Who Will Blink First? - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 25th, 2021
- City Hall: Committee Loves New FPC Nominees - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 24th, 2021
- City Hall: The Ann Wilson Problem - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 24th, 2021
Read more about Fire & Police Commission's Troubles here