State Senator Chris Larson, State Representative Chris Sinicki, County Supervisor Jason Haas and City Alderman Terry Witkowski have been fighting very hard against this happening.
In recent days, more information has come out that shows that things are much, much worse than anyone had previously thought.
Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express dug into the story and learned a number of alarming facts.
Not only did Abele falsely promise that no sex offenders would be placed in the group on West Uncas Avenue, but the owner of the group home, Karl Rajani, had made the same false promise. On top of that, Rajani tried to smooth the way by offering to pay off members of the community.
Needless to say, when elected officials that represent that area learned that Abele was going to place these sex offenders there, they were outraged. From Kaiser's article:
Witkowski said he heard from neighbors that sex offenders would be placed on Uncas Avenue and that he contacted Abele for more information. He said he didn’t get a solid response from the county until after he called a press conference in November.Kaiser also learned that the three-year contract to house the two sex offenders and two other patients being ousted from the mental health hospital was worth $5.5 million and was awarded in a no bid process.
“This is the worst example of government I’ve ever seen as far as secrecy and not involving the public,” Witkowski told the Shepherd.
Supervisor Haas, who represents the area on the county board, said he found out about the facility after the fact and the board doesn’t have the ability to vote on it.
“This was done utterly in secret,” Haas said.
Last week, residents of the West Uncas Avenue neighborhood attended the Milwaukee County Board's Health and Human Needs Committee. While the residents were able to express their concerns, their anger and their frustration, they came away empty-handed.
Abele had had State Representative Joe Sanfelippo and Senator Alberta Darling ram through legislation that took away all authority the county board had over the county's mental health services. The control of the county mental health services - and its budget - to an unelected Mental Health Board, populated with Abele's political appointees.
The citizens were told that the Mental Health Board was scheduled to take up this subject on Thursday, December 17.
The chairwoman of said board is Abele's disgraced former head of corp counsel, Kimberly Walker, who had been fired for gross incompetency and unethical behavior. Walker told Kaiser that she would not allow public comment on the matter.
At the board meeting, even though the Uncas Avenue group home was the last item on the agenda, it was manipulated to be heard first so that any concerned citizens that showed up later would not even get to learn what happened, much less have any input.
But there's more. There's always more.
It was learned that the two sex offenders had been telling staff at the mental health complex - nurses, nursing assistants and doctors - that they were planning on reoffending once they were placed in the community. It might have been that these statements were made to manipulate their situation and an effort to keep them from being placed in an unfamiliar and possibly unsafe situation. But as with suicide threats, it needed to be taken seriously.
In an effort to alert the Mental Health Board to these newly found facts, Dennis Hughes spoke out at the meeting, telling board members of the threats being made by the offenders.
For his trouble, Walker had him escorted out of the room and then arrested (emphasis Kaiser's):
The Uncas Avenue facility was the last item on the agenda.Again, for wanting to warn of a danger to public safety, Abele's political appointee had him arrested and hauled off. That is not an example of representative government. That is pure fascism.
But Board Member Duncan Shrout moved that it be heard first. So even if Uncas Avenue residents had been allowed to speak, they would have been caught off guard and likely wouldn’t have been there to speak at 8 a.m.
The discussion was relatively superficial, which I’m sure was by design. Colon assured the board that all state, local and federal laws had been followed.
Board Chair Walker never told the board that Supervisor Dimitrijevic had made her request for public discussion. Nor did any board members bring up the fact that BHD administration had misled them on the $5.5 million contract. Nor did they discuss Uncas Avenue neighbors’ concerns about sex offenders living on their block.
So the board voted to table the issue.
And that’s when Hughes stood up, demanding to speak about the “imminent threat to public safety.”
And that’s when security moved in on him.
So that’s the true story of what happened this morning.
To summarize, Abele gave a no bid contract worth $5.5 million to a group home to house sex offenders, even though he had told neighbors and their elected officials that he would not place the offenders there. Then when someone speaks out to warn of an imminent danger to public safety - that the offenders were already planning to reoffend - they get arrested and carted off to jail.
Sadly, there's still even more.
People who have been following this situation closely have informed me that there were two other registered sex offenders listed as living at the mental health complex who are no longer listed as living there. There current whereabouts are unknown except to Abele and his inner circle.
Now doesn't that make you feel better?
Any pretense that Abele is concerned about public safety or the wishes of the constituents he supposedly represents can be thrown out right now.
Just like his friend and mentor, Scott Walker, Abele is a firm believer in what you don't know won't hurt his campaign.