Friday, March 14, 2014

Petty Politics Imperil Public Safety, Taxpayers

It's not a deep, dark secret that Chris Abele and David Clarke don't like each other very much.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff has repeatedly proven himself to be a disgrace to the badge.  He has promoted people that shouldn't have been promoted (read Fran McLaughlin of Walkergate fame); squandered taxpayer money on things like a personal gym; and has basically admitted he can not and/or will not do his job as Sheriff.

He has also attacked Abele with some of the most inane, boorish and infantile comments made by an elected official, including accusing Abele of being on drugs and having "penis envy."

Abele, the Mitt Romney of Milwaukee County, has been far from an innocent victim in this.  He has also launched a series of attacks on the Sheriff.  Abele has also gone so far as to abuse his office by trying to illegally dictate how Clarke administers - or more often, misadministers - his office.  An example of this comes from last fall, when Abele tried to dictate who should be laid off from Clarke's office, including a number of deputies and administrative staff.

Even though the county board restored some of the funding that Abele would have cut from the Sheriff's Office, they did not restore all the funding.

Despite the partial relief, the arrogant Sheriff showed that public safety and responsibility to the taxpayers came in second and third place to his pride and posturing.  Instead of working with the budget he was given, he still practiced cronyism and poor planning by promoting people that should have been terminated, like Fran McLaughlin.

Now Clarke's budgetary chickens are coming home to roost.  A report from the county's comptroller's office (tell me again how this wasn't a political move by Abele) shows that the Sheriff's Office is on pace to have a $4.6 million deficit by the end of the year:
"In addition, apparently they do not fully grasp the difference in staffing needs between a Monday through Friday, one-shift operation and the needs of a 24-7 law enforcement agency," the letter said.

Clarke kept all five deputy inspectors in place, even though the budget cut funding for three of them.

Clarke also kept 12 captains though funding for eight disappeared. And 18 sergeants remain in the department, though funding was cut for six of them.

In addition, Clarke kept his two inspectors — Richard Schmidt and Edward Bailey — on the job, even though the budget included funding for only one of them.


Clarke's projected deficit also included $520,000 in overtime costs beyond what was budgeted and a shortfall of $1.1 million in revenue from fewer federal prisoners being held at the county jail.

Despite a request, the sheriff's office didn't provide any suggestions for ways to fix the projected shortfall.
Something tells me that despite the budgetary shortfall and projected deficit, Clarke will still find the money to allow him to rent a horse so he can be in parades this summer, using taxpayer money to help him campaign, as he has always done in the past.

There is no doubt that Clarke is the worst sheriff this county has ever seen and he needs to go, which is why I am glad to support Chris Moews for Sheriff.

That said, I would be remiss to point out the biggest piece of hypocrisy that comes from this news report, which comes from Abele:
Abele has said the cuts were made because the sheriff's office was top-heavy with managers.
This is a pretty bold statement coming from a person who created positions for his cronies and is going as far as threatening lawsuits so that they can collect up to $170,000 in just salaries, not including benefits.

It takes a lot of gall - and shows a complete disconnect - from a man who is laying off hundreds of workers and slashing the take home pay of the other workers, more than any other government in the nation.

We need to get rid of both of these clowns before Milwaukee County even has a chance of getting better for the people who live, work and visit here.

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