But on Wednesday, there was a new flair. Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele had to testify regarding comments he made, pointing out that deferred maintenance led, in part, to the catastrophe. And true to his nature, he tried to have things both ways at once:
Abele acknowledged remarks he made in two speeches were in reference to the accident.Not only was Abele trying to convince people that what he said didn't mean what he said, but the look on his face was a dead giveaway of what he thought of having to tell the truth, as shown in this picture taken by Rick Wood of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Abele linked the county's longstanding deferred maintenance with the O'Donnell death in speeches on June 14, 2011, two months after first taking office. Those remarks and Abele's subsequent effort to correct them were covered in a Journal Sentinel article.
Recordings of those comments were played to jurors.
In a speech at City Hall, Abele said, "The lack of attention to that issue (deferred maintenance) ended in tragedy."
A few hours later, Abele discussed the issue in a speech to the Milwaukee Rotary Club.
"I can't do anything about the last eight years, but we've had hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance," Abele said. "And almost a year ago today we saw exactly what can happen and how tragic it can be when you ignore it."
In the Rotary speech, Abele raised the O'Donnell accident to help explain why he canceled a $775,000 public art project in favor of spending on maintenance jobs.
"I just don't see how you can look at what happened (at O'Donnell Park) and not take it as an opportunity to aggressively" deal with remaining maintenance problems, Abele said in the speech.
In his testimony Wednesday, Abele said he should have said the O'Donnell accident was a lesson that things should be properly maintained.
Abele often spoke in a quiet voice, prompting Judge Christopher Foley to ask him to speak more loudly so jurors could hear him.
Abele said he couldn't recall whether any county officials warned him his speech remarks could undercut the county's legal position in litigation over the O'Donnell accident.
Abele said he wasn't aware of details of O'Donnell construction or maintenance.
He actually looks like he's in pain at the thought of having to tell the truth. No wonder they are still calling him mini-Walker.