Jeramey Jannene

Khalif Rainey To Lead Office of African American Affairs

Plus: Mayor's new picks for lobbying leader, innovation director and labor negotiator.

By - May 6th, 2024 03:26 pm
Ald. Khalif Rainey speaks at May 2023 Melvina Park groundbreaking. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Ald. Khalif Rainey speaks at May 2023 Melvina Park groundbreaking. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

After less than a month away, Khalif Rainey is returning to City Hall. And it’s to a job he helped create.

Rainey is being appointed by Mayor Cavalier Johnson to lead the Office of African American Affairs.

The Mayor’s Office announced the appointment, and several others, in a press release Monday morning.

Rainey served on the Common Council from 2016 to April 2024, but announced in December 2023 he wasn’t running for reelection. From 2013 to 2016 he served as a Milwaukee County Supervisor.

At both the city and county, he led the creation of an Office of African American Affairs. The city office was created in 2016.

The city’s office focuses on connecting the Black community with city resources and private partners. The office is formally located within the Department of Administration, but it operates a public-facing one-stop location at 4830 W. Fond du Lac. Ave.

According to the 2024 city budget, the office has six funded positions. That includes a new director position with a budgeted salary of $95,000. Darryl Davidson has previously led the office, though his position in the budget is formally the “community engagement and achievement collaboration manager” with a budgeted $92,510 salary. The department is also funded to have a program manager, two grant managers and program assistant.

The office lists four key initiatives on its website: the Milwaukee Fatherhood Coalition, Black Male Achievement, My Brother’s Keeper and Advocating Health Literacy.

After his December announcement, Rainey repeatedly joked with Urban Milwaukee about what he was going to do next with options ranging from Disneyland to a job at Western Building Products. “You know where I’m going,” he said while exiting the council antechamber last month. And now he’s where he was expected.

Rainey holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana.

Restrictions included by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature in the Act 12 sales tax agreement impose restrictions on what funding sources can be used to fund the office, with the city relying on a mix of grants to sustain the office.

The appointment is not subject to council confirmation.

Jim Bohl Is New Innovation Czar, Primakow Promoted

A familiar face is being promoted to lead the city’s lobbying team, while the current lead takes on a newly-created city job.

Jim Bohl will be the city’s first innovation director. The position was created within the Department of Administration in the 2024 budget to take advantage of hundreds of millions of dollars of state aid set aside in Act 12 for collaborating governments.

“Bohl will lead administration efforts to improve efficiency, streamline operations, and identify opportunities to work collaboratively with other agencies and governments,” says a press release from the mayor’s office.

A former alderman, Bohl resigned in 2018 to take a job on the city’s lobbying team before becoming Johnson’s first chief of staff in 2021. He moved to become the city’s top lobbyist in late 2022.

Jordan Primakow will replace Bohl as lead lobbyist for the mayor within the Intergovernmental Relations Division. The two were the city’s key representatives in the Act 12 negotiation.

Primakow will leads the two-person lobbying team reporting to the mayor, which partners with the council’s two-person lobbying team led by Justin Moralez to advocate for the city’s interests in the state Capitol.

As established in state statute 62.51, Primakow’s nomination is subject to council approval, Bohl’s is not.

New Labor Negotiator

Johnson is nominating Veronica Rudychev to serve as the city’s labor negotiator.

While Act 10 eliminated most public union bargaining in Wisconsin, the city’s public safety workers were exempted. As a result, the agreements with the Milwaukee Police Association and Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association have a large impact on city finances and operations.

Rudychev will replace Nicole Fleck, who has served in the role since 2017 and with the city since 2007.

The nominee previously served at the Milwaukee Police Department budget and administration manager. She currently serves as finance manager for Milwaukee County Parks.

According to the mayor’s office, she earned a master’s degree in public administration from UW-Milwaukee. Rudychev previously worked as a Mequon firefighter and served as the local union treasurer during her firefighting tenure.

The appointment is subject to Common Council confirmation.

Other Than Election Commission, Few Other Moves

Following the spring election, the mayor is required to forward a long list of cabinet-level nominations to the council for approval.

Monday’s announcement included one big surprise: Claire Woodall is out at the Milwaukee Election Commission. Deputy Paulina Esperanza Gutierrez will replace her. For more, see our earlier coverage.

“The Mayor intends to re-nominate other cabinet officials who have served in those positions over the past two years including the heads of larger departments such as Public Works, Health, Neighborhood Services, City Development, and the Library,” says the press release. That would mean Jerrel Kruschke, Michael Totoraitis, Jezamil Arroyo-Vega, Lafayette Crump and Joan Johnson will keep their jobs, at least if the council approves them.

Johnson has not formally forwarded the nominations to the Common Council.

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Categories: City Hall, Politics

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